Destitute and Displaced: It is all about Pilfering Natural Resources and Strategic Hegemony

Mehran Banaei

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A number of years ago my eyes were badly injured during a recreational soccer game. As a result of this injury, I was temporarily blinded for a few weeks. At the time, I had no idea if I could ever see again. Although this was a traumatic and frightening experience, it was not without its rewards. The whole ordeal was a lesson in blindness. It taught me how I took my vision for granted all along. It taught me empirically what it means to be deprived of one of the most precious senses. Above all, it taught me how easy it is for one to suddenly lose his vision. When I recovered, I begun to cherish my eyes and used my sense of vision with a great deal of joy, care and appreciation.

Not long after this ordeal, I found the opportunity to work as a graduate intern at the UNHCR Head Office in Ankara, Turkey. I was responsible to interview asylum seekers and screen them according to the UNHCR’s refugee determination criteria.

This experience was similar to my eye injury, although it was very depressing, it was nonetheless very rewarding. It brought me close enough to witness the plight of those refugees who were in serious financial, psychological and even physical pain. The uniqueness of such an experience is the realization of the same ubiquitous reality that one witnesses night after night on the television screen, but this time perception of this reality is aided with more than one sense. The focus of this perception is on displaced people who are human beings like everyone of us with flesh, feelings and hopes, but are dehumanized by having been turned into file numbers. One of the most unforgettable incidents while I was there took place during an early morning interview. A middle-aged asylum seeker was just admitted to the office for his first interview. Although the man appeared healthy, he was under so much stress that as soon as he started to reveal his grounds for asylum he collapsed with a heart attack. He died in the office, right in front of the legal officer and an interpreter. I was told later that this was “nothing,” incidents such as someone burning himself in front of the UNHCR building or somebody throwing his sick child in front of a vehicle to relieve the child of the pain were common incidents there. The situation at the UNHCR camps was far worse than the Head Office.

My daily experiences were particularly depressing for a new employee who had to face the misery of destitute and then make a yes or no “moral” decision. Indeed, reading Locke, Hume, Hobbes, Kant and all other theoretical writings on ethics meant nothing when it came to a real life situation. It was striking to see that the permanent employees were very accustomed to this operational ennui. It frightened me to think that the same thing could have happened to me if I had stayed there a little longer. There, in the legal unit of the UNHCR, legal officers are involved in making decisions on the future of these applicants. They act like quality control inspectors on an assembly line filtering out unwanted goods. The irony in this process is that the needless determine the fate of the needy in accordance with ethical values which are relative and culturally biased. Being involved in this pedagogical process was indeed my greatest difficulty, especially when the system is known to be deficient from experiences elsewhere.

As one of the consequences of the U.S. jingoistic military intervention in the Persian Gulf, the majority of the refugees coming into Turkey were Iraqis, who were fleeing the severe economic hardship imposed on them by Western economic embargos. The distinction between convention refugee and migrant worker is clear in the UNHCR Determination Handbook, and of course “the UNHCR does not act as travel agency” in population movements. Thus, those who do not fit the convention definition are doomed to be rejected. None of the asylum seekers get any benefit from the UN, unless they are first recognized as a convention refugee. The result is tantamount to a disappointing brush-off for a great number of those who seek asylum.

The standard and ubiquitous cliche: “we regret to inform you that …, thank you for your interest in UNHCR, we hope that you are successful elsewhere in your future objectives” appears in the only correspondence that a refugee receives from the UNHCR. Indirectly, the rejectees are treated as though they are guilty of committing an embarrassing crime like shoplifting or plagiarizing an essay, while their only “misdeed” is trying to provide better living conditions for their family. “You migrant worker, how dare you impersonate a convention refugee.” A “crime” that without any hesitation anyone of us would commit being in their position. Often both the needless and the needy are where they are due an accident of birth and fate. The needless, seemingly immune from displacement, are indifferent to the needs of the needy. The needless never think that they too may easily become one of the needy, just as we hardly ever consider that we may lose our precious eyesight.

The rejectees often remain in Turkey illegally, hoping to reach their destination through smugglers. The smugglers, who can hardly be trusted, often prey ruthlessly on the vulnerability of these desperate people. They charge as much as U.S.$10,000 to provide them with a forged passport and an airline ticket. While in Turkey, if they are caught, they are subject to prosecution and deportation by the Turkish authorities.

As a result of this obviously faulty process, many NGOs and refugee rights advocates have campaigned for broadening the 1951 UN definition of a refugee. Although concerned for human rights, I personally never favoured the idea of keep changing the “outdated” definition of a convention refugee in order to accommodate the larger number of asylum seekers of 1990s and onwards. That is simply because we should always seek an optimal solution as opposed to a band-aid approach and false comfort. Therefore, we must handle any problems at the foundational level, to see what has caused the cracks in the structure in the first place. Thus, we ought to remove the sources which have generated the defects, rather than just dealing with symptoms. Furthermore, if we try to revise the 1951 definition of refugee in order to accommodate the current situation, then what are we going to do in the next few decades when the 1990s or 2010s definition is once again outdated? We have already tried this approach once in 1960s through the added rights implementing by 1967 Protocol and that soon after deemed to be insufficient.

Therefore, it seems that changing the definition every once in a while is far from being an optimal solution or a foundational approach. The curing solution does not lie in allowing more refugees to settle in the West. Our attention, if genuine, ought to be in eradicating the problem from its root, which is indeed viable if our priorities are just and correctly focused. For example, in case of Iraqi refugees, if the UN enforced economic blockade against Iraq was never imposed, then many of these refugees whom I met in Turkey would not abandoned their homeland, possessions, culture, way of life, family and beg for membership in a foreign and often hostile society. Why should Western powers punish Iraqi children by putting a ban on exportation of medicine and baby formula? The Iraqi refugees are the victims of the so-called “New World Order”, which evidently breathes disorder.

Three decades have passed; Turkey is once again a major gathering place of refugees from the Middle East. However, this time, they are not the downcast non-convention refugees who are escaping poverty. They are the genuine convention refugees, consist of Syrians and Iraqis fleeing war zones, an internal war composed and conducted by Western powers.

Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen are the regional nations that one by one are being destroyed primarily for their natural resources or for their vital strategic location. The Middle East is deliberately destabilized by state sponsors of terrorism run by a bunch of well-groomed psychopathic warmongering criminals to ensure the survival of Israel and cheap oil shipped to the West.

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The democracy loving, human rights loving and freedom loving Neocons have turned the Middle East into an eerie graveyard where the masked scavengers feast. Destruction of properties, environment and human life, nothing seem to stop the perpetrators of this insidious crime. The heartless imperialist strategy of divide and conquer in form of “sectarian violence” is in effect to tear apart the Middle East, while cunningly pinpointing the collaborators of this tragedy as people’s own “antiquated backward” religion. The crisis is painted to look like Arabs are victims of a domestic self-inflected misery.

History attests that so long as the causative and interconnected factors for human displacement are left loose, the plight of refugees around the world will continue to persist. So long as there is profit in war and money is the be-all and end-all of human existence, there will never be peace on Earth. In essence, so long as Man refuses to humble himself and does not realize his unique place in the universe, there will always be wars and human misery. Surely, there is no other solution for our interrelated social ills.

Revised and expanded, a shorter version of this article was published in: Refuge, Vol. 13, No. 8, January 1994, pp. 25-26

 

 

 

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The Fallacy of “Supernatural”

Mehran Banaei

How many times have neo-atheists like Lawrence Krauss vociferously stated: “We [the scientists] don’t believe in any supernatural shenanigans?” In an attempt to refute the notion of the First Cause, Krauss ubiquitously refers to the Big Bang Originator as a “supernatural shenanigan”, hoping to convince his audience that it is science which leads to disbelief in a caused universe.

Krauss is not the only atheist scientist who appeals to gimmicks to score his point. Like Richard Dawkins, he claims not to believe in “supernatural shenanigans” because he is a man of science. I suppose a man with a hidden agenda has no choice but to appeal to deceitful tricks, when he tries to promote an unscientific personal opinion disguised as a research based academic exposition. Indeed, it boggles the mind as to why would a scientist, if he were truly objective, inordinately adopt unscientific language to brag about what he does not believe?

The term “supernatural”, particularly when paired with “shenanigans” unconsciously conjures up the image of a mystical fairytale, magic or superstition. Whatever is labeled “supernatural”, connotes it being a relic of the past, an outdated pre-scientific thinking, sitting right next to the paranormal. A “supernatural being” sounds like a fictitious mythological character that does not exist, i.e. Zeus, Vishnu or Superman. By using such a term the neo-atheists are trying to make their opponents look like idiots before even the debate begins. Krauss is trying to shape the reader’s attitudes towards what caused the universe before he even presents his case, by implying that belief in “God” for lack of a better word is stupid, and the one who adopts such a belief is at the zenith of stupidity.

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An example of genuine supernatural shenanigans: the claim that one can levitate by meditation. Belief in the First Cause is put in the same category, and then debunked by erroneous association.

Psychologically, people have a great aversion to being branded with terms that have a negative import. No one would wish to be stigmatized as having an antiquated belief. No one wants to have a negative title bestowed upon one, especially when it is often closely associated with some outlooks which indeed are primitive, superstitious, irrational or fanatical. This insidious attempt is deliberately used to disadvantage the other side at the very outset, by placing a negative label on them. This is nothing short of straw man labelization.

The strategy implies that whoever adopts a belief in “supernatural” is dogmatic. However, this type of stigmatization in essence, is a typical textbook case of cheap ad hominem attack and name calling, devoid of any substantiative arguments.

But, is the Entity which caused the universe supernatural? It all depends on the definition and our point of reference. Nothing is universally natural across the board. For instance, is it natural to be able to fly? For reptiles is not, for birds it certainly is. Is it natural to swim under water? For fish it is, for the cockroach it is not. Is it natural, to be uncaused, to be immortal outside of time and space dimensions, and not to have a face or physical body? For earthy beings it is not, but for the Big Bang Originator, the Creator of time and space it is. Who said that the Creator of the laws of physics must be subject to the laws of physics, and ought to be empirically verifiable? In fact, the Creator of the laws physics cannot be subject to them. That should be perfectly obvious to anyone with a modicum of logic. The Creator and creation cannot be of the same essence, not even close. One must be totally different than the other! How absurd to determine what is natural, unnatural or supernatural from a reductionistic self-centered point of view. Krauss ignores the limits of conceptualization of human understanding, and acts like he knows it all. For him what is universally natural, is what he perceives to be natural, anything outside of the limited realm of human perception is considered unnatural; therefore anything of such a unique attribute is categorized as nonsense. However, I guess revealing all of that information to the readers would have undercut Krauss’ attempt to dogmatize monotheistic theism.

Furthermore, note how Krauss subtly uses his academic status and the like-minded scientists to bolster the claim that God does not exist, even though the existence or non-existence of God falls completely outside the jurisdiction of science, the way modern scientists define science. This is a fallacy known as “Appeal to Authority” – we are supposed to believe the proposition just because someone who is supposedly an expert says so. However, it is Krauss the atheist, not Krauss the physicist who is stating his own opinion, and his personal opinion on God carries no more weight than the opinion of a hairstylist. Just as cutting hair in a barbershop does not lead to atheism, likewise working in a science lab does not lead to atheism. Surely, the opinion of another scientist could be diametrically at odds with his. Therefore, the appropriate thing for Kruss to say is that “We the atheists don’t believe in any supernatural shenanigans”, to which a thoughtful theist could rightly reply: Big Deal! We, who acknowledge the universe is caused, don’t believe in any supernatural shenanigans either.

But why should we be listening to Krauss? Do we know if he is trustworthy? Is he stating a fact, or merely his own slanted atheistic opinion? Indeed, why would a truly objective scientist assume that the universe is causeless, and degrade the theistic position as a “supernatural shenanigans”? If one is truly a man of science, then he does not need to appeal to these kind of cheap tricks. Atheists repeatedly use these tricks because they know well it is effective. The inappropriate usage of the term supernatural is now frequently picked up by the believers themselves to describe their faith.

If Krauss says that we the scientists don’t believe in the Uncaused cause, we believe that the universe is self-created, he would then have a hard time defending his position without looking dim-witted. For one, he is in no position to speak for all scientists. Prominent scientists, past and present like Isaac Newton, and all the Muslim scientists of the Golden Age who introduced science and scientific investigations to the Europeans, emphatically believed in the Uncaused cause. They openly believed in the existence of a Grand Designer.

Does Krauss the scientist believe in a rudimentary deductive logic and a priori reasoning? He should if he is truly objective. We now know that the universe had a beginning. Time, space, matter and energy suddenly came into existence from oblivious nonexistence. An Entity, call it God or what have you, must have triggered the creation of the universe. This God far from being “supernatural” the way it is suggested, is the Necessary Being, which is impossible not to exist. By Its nature, such a Being ought to be uncaused, singular, intelligent and powerful. His “Godly” nature is natural for what this Being is – as natural as water being wet.

What Krauss does not wish to acknowledge is that the alternative so-called “scientific” theories posed to refute the Uncaused cause seem more shenaniganic like the multiverse theory operating on unguided automated natural selection. Dawkins’ postulation that complex organisms in nature are not designed, but have the illusion of design. Or Stephen Hawking’s assertion of chance hypothesis that the creation of the universe was “the ultimate free lunch”. All are implausible weak theories nicely packaged as scientific facts.

Neo-atheists have hijacked science, turned it into a right-wing industry for manipulating public opinion, rather than appealing to objective rational judgments, and the sincere and noble pursuit of the truth. The industry’s whole aim is to market a peculiar Godless religion in order to make a fast buck. These atheist evangelists have made a lucrative career ironically revolving around the “nonsense” of what they themselves purport they could not have cared less about.

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“Dysteleology”: Bad Design or Argumentum Ad Absurdum?

Mehran Banaei

We live on a wonderful self-sufficient planet filled with endless beauty and bewildering complexity, complexity in interconnectivity of all elements involved in a life-sustaining system, complexity in structural design of each organism. The efficiency of nature`s superb design has been the focus of cutting-edge research and development in technology. Researchers look into nature for inspiration to come up with innovative hi-tech designs to be nature-like in conserving energy, cutting waste materials and to increase productivity. In fact, the entire universe is so intelligently designed that makes a humble person to spontaneously bow down to the Mastermind and the Power who put the universe together. Consider the complexity of single cell which develops to a fully functioning human body with hi-tech apparatus like eyes, heart, mind, etc. Can complexity, order, harmony and beauty arise from chance? Or, indeed it ought to be intelligently designed. Human experience firmly attests that systematic order cannot be caused by chance.

Yet, to deny the reality of a Caused universe, many atheists not only do not feel humble enough to acknowledge the beauty and intelligence behind the creation, they try so hard to find flaws in the system. They nag like a spoiled nit-picking child making excuses to have it his or her way; they stretch their imagination to find “defects” in this magnificent life-sustaining system. From their perspective the entire universe far from being impressive is ill-designed with no thought behind it, in particular when it comes to human anatomy. They have coined the term “dysteleology”, meaning living organisms have many weak features that make them suboptimal. Therefore, life cannot be a product of an Intelligent Designer.

The most common example cited is the pharynx, a single passage shared for three essential functions—the respiratory, digestive and communicative. To atheists no competent engineer would design such a “poor” system that could possibly make one to choke while simultaneously eating, talking and breathing through one single pipe.

Another example is our private part which concurrently used as the means to discharge bodily waste, as well as for sexual gratification and reproduction. To atheists we have “an entertainment complex built in the middle of a sewage system”. How awful!

Additional example given is that of our teeth, which is said to be “too many” for our jaws to accommodate, asserted that is why some people have crooked teeth. Or birth canal is too narrow to allow a safe passage for a newborn’s birth, endangering the life of the mother and her baby. These are all examples of presumed incompetence and dysfunctional design of the human anatomy. From these premises it is concluded the entire universe is uncaused.

Let’s assume they have a point. Are we now expected to overlook the marvel of DNA Double Helix structure comprised of chemical bases arranged in approximately 3 billion precise sequences, or the astonishing complexity of the human brain with 1.1 trillion cells and 100 billion neurons capable of conducting countless calculations, and adopt atheism? All because we use the same organ to have intercourse and urinate. Is this supposed to be an argument? Does the assertion made fall anywhere in the realm of science?

It seems that ironically, these examples are sufficient enough for the likes of Francisco Ayala to declare that I am a lousy defect, yet smart enough to figure out that there could be no Intelligent Designer for my being. Like Richard Dawkins, his attitude is that it is a bad design if one is going to conclude there is an Intelligent Designer involved, but it is a marvellous design if the credit is going to be given to evolution. Surely, he thinks evolution deserves the credit for his nut cracking cognitive capacity.

If the atheist scientists truly think scientifically, they would not then make such an embarrassing blunder. For instance, if all sewage systems could be turned into a popular entertainment center, would that not be an ultimate achievement in the preservation of environment, a triumph of the reduce, reuse, and recycle principle? To have a popular entertainment system in the middle of sewage is not at all a bad design; it is indeed an excellent design. Indubitably, there is a lot of talent and creativity involved behind such an operation which is simultaneously a sewage treatment plant as well as a fun theme park.

Multi-tools are not at a bad design. Consider a handy Swiss army knife or a popular iPhone. iPhone, one small gadget which is an audio and video communication device with radio, TV, camera, GPS, calculator, watch, note pad, calendar, books, photo album, and many more all in one. Is this a bad design?

Swiss Army Knife

iPhone

Atheists should put their money where their mouth is. These fellows are the smart scientists; they should enlighten us, and tell us what a better design for human anatomy is. Where is the best location, both internally and externally for a human genital to be? Is it better to have it on the forehead, center of the palm, chest, back of the neck, or perhaps on front of the neck where it could also be used as a permanent neck tie? How many openings should there be on human body to amend the aforementioned “deficiencies”? Viruses get into our system through mouth, nose and genital. Would additional openings not expose us to further risks, and diminish the beauty and symmetry of the human body?

Birth deaths have nothing to do with the diameter of birth canal as the canal has a great elasticity feature. This feature is common among all mammals. Are all mammals ill-designed? Is there a better alternative? Ayala may prefer to see expanded birth canal by 0.5 cm, have sex with a partner with an enlarged canal, and then tell us how satisfying that would be.

If indeed nature is a collection of poorly designed organisms, why researchers persistently look into nature for perfection and inspiration? The fact is the best sustainable designs that researchers ever came up with were directly plagiarized from nature. Some then have the nerve to act like nature is stupid and we, the plagiarizers are smarter than the plagiarizee.

Let’s examine the track record of what at the time was perceived to be the best manmade design produced by competent multi-discipline engineering teams.

The Titanic was designed to be unsinkable, but sunk on its first journey. The ship was in service only for five days.

The Concorde was at one point regarded by experts as an icon in aerospace engineering, but despite numerous costly upgrades the whole supersonic program was dismantled and declared to be a failure.

In January of 1986, the $5.5 billion NASA space shuttle Challenger, a marvel of human engineering, the most complex spacecraft ever designed exploded just 72 seconds into its flight. All seven crewmembers on board died instantly in an explosion in front of millions of television viewers around the world. The explosion was blamed in part on inadequate design of solid rocket boosters to function under unexpected freezing temperatures. After 10 successful missions, having travelled 42,000,000 km in space, the manufactures learned the inadequacy of their design in a tragic way.

The Challenger’s deficiencies were corrected in the spacecraft Columbia. Columbia had 28 successful missions, having travelled 202,000,000 km in space. Yet, once again in February 2003 at the end of its last mission, the world was stunned to view another disaster due to an unforeseen technological failure. As one expert put it, these accidents were planned by human hands at the moment of the project’s conception. We like to think we got all the variables involved, identified and tamed. Evidently we are unable to.

There are indeed countless examples of blunder in human engineering design. In fact, there is not a day that goes by, that the manufacturers of certain product in a variety of different industries do not recall a product due to a flawed design. There are countless court cases of class action lawsuits filed against manufactures of bad designs by consumers.

The point here is with such a track record, mankind is not qualified to declare what appropriate or inappropriate anatomical design is. The above examples confirm the nature of limited human knowledge. Man can never know the totality of reality, and must not be ashamed of its limitation. The problem occurs when he refuses to accept this and acts like he knows all there is to know, when he plays God. This arrogant attitude is well manifested in the bold claims that atheists so frequently make here and there and follow upon that which they are not certain of. Without pondering on what justifiable criteria should we be using to deem a multi-functional apparatus a defect or suboptimal. What criteria do we use to deem an alternative design a better design? What constitutes a “better” anatomical design? Having eyes at the back of the head, being able to swim under the water and fly like a bird, with life expectancy of 1000 years maintenance-free?

German philosopher Gottfried Leibniz believed God has created the best of all possible worlds, whether it is optimal or suboptimal world is a different matter. But regardless of how one comes to evaluate the degree of optimality, even a suboptimal design is still a design. The universe relentlessly displays evidence that it is designed by an Entity with power and intelligence. This is an unchangeable fact whether one likes it or not.

Moreover, in order to answer the question of what is optimal or not, one has to know the purpose of a thing. If the purpose or goal is uncertain, then one cannot determine if a thing is optimal. Could it not be that the universe itself is optimally designed for a purpose – the purpose being who regards it as optimal, and who arrogantly refuses to acknowledge its intended purpose and design: a test to see who falls into the dysteleological trap?

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Can “Science” legitimately Dismiss “Non-science”?

Mehran Banaei

For years the Greek philosophers in ancient Greece were debating which part of our daily food actually feeds us and turns into energy, and which part is useless and purged after digestion. To end the debate, one Greek intellectual came up with the assertion that the part that feeds us is “the nutritious faculty of the food.” His seemingly fancy assertion was an interesting explanation, but it did not offer anything new. The subsequent question which immediately comes to mind is: which part of the food we eat is “the nutritious faculty of the food.” What was proposed only begged the question. The offered explanation is tautological. It is like saying, the part that feeds us, is the part that feeds us.

If you think perhaps this was the characteristic of scientific inquiry in ancient time, not of the modern era on more vital issues, you are mistaken. This approach is still prevailing today in scientific inquires. Consider the following case:

From the early dawn of civilization, the oldest existential question ever asked by Mankind is that why is there ‘something’ rather than ‘nothing’. Some consider this basic question philosophical, others think it is scientific, a few think it is inherently theological. The fact of the matter is, this is a simple commonsensical question, naturally occupying Man’s mind worthy of serious inquiry. Indeed, why is there ‘something’ when there could be ‘nothing’? The ‘something’ refers to an entire universe with bewildering complexity intelligently fine-tuned where the earth and the whole of mankind is only an insignificant speck of dust in the grand scheme of creation. A sequential creation which gradually evolved from the moment of inception of time, space, matter and energy.

Each group has proposed a solution for this deep-seated enigma. However, the solution offered by the scientists is continuously nothing short of begging the question. Indeed, from physicists, cosmologists to biologists, their explanation of why is there ‘something’ as opposed to ‘nothing’ is anything, but satisfactory. The theologians and philosophers who attribute creation to an anthropomorphic cause are not in a better predicament.

Some ardent scientists would like us to think that they have unlocked the secrets of the universe and have totally eliminated the role of the First Cause or the Prime Mover. The creation of the universe is attributed to existence of gravity, quantum particles, Higgs boson, laws of physics, natural selection and so on. Some scientists attack ancient fairytales, yet propose modern fairytales like “multiverse”, or to say the least push a weak theory as though it is an established fact.

Like the above-mentioned ancient Greek thinker, these scientists do not seem to understand this rudimentary question too well and clearly have nothing to offer. Stephen Hawking for example states that “One cannot prove that God does not exist, but science makes God unnecessary… The laws of physics can explain the universe without the need for a Creator.” Really! Indeed, what an incredibly petulant and tautological argument coming from an eminent scientist! Similar to Richard Dawkins who asserts that natural selection did it, Hawkins reductionistic solution is that gravity did it all. In his revolutionary contribution, Hawking takes the liberty to avoid elaborating, I suppose from his perspective, on a minor issue: where did the laws of physics come from? Once again we see another scientist who looks for the cause of the universe within the already created universe. More so, he neglects to explain why the universe is programmed to gravitate. Is gravity self-created? How is it that gravity is acting up with an intended goal?

drawing-hands-by-escherThe drawer of this drawing is not in the drawing, likewise the cause of the universe cannot be within the universe

In answering the question, why is there ‘something’ as opposed to ‘nothing’, any proposed mechanism for what caused the universe and how it came to be is still an invalid remedy. For one would still ask why is there, for example gravity, where there could be no gravity. Where did the precise required laws of physics come from? Why is there natural selection as opposed to unnatural rejection? Their utter inability to tackle this and other similar questions have forced them to declare that all “Why” questions are silly questions unworthy of pursuit. To cover up the irrationality of their position and to silence their critic, they do their best to belittle philosophy. Ironically, in so doing, they give philosophical arguments to elevate science above philosophy.

The reason for the inability of science to answer this fundamental question emanates from the fact that existential questions are not at all scientific questions, the way empirical science defines itself, i.e. the process of observation, experimentation, quantification, falsification, prediction and empirical verification. Thereby, any proposed explanation offered by any scientist is unscientific and a matter of personal opinion, particularly when such a scientist steps into realm of non-science and metaphysics such as the debate on if there is or there is not a “God”. In this regard, an opinion of a scientist is no more valuable than an opinion of a chef or an auto mechanic. Is there any relationship between the validity of an opinion on metaphysics with what the person who expresses it does for living? What is the connection between cooking and the proclamation that there is, or there is not a God? Absolutely nothing. Likewise, what is the connection between science and atheism? If all the chefs in the world claim to be atheists, does this make the idea of God and cooking mutually exclusive, incompatible with one another? Scientists like Dawkins and Krauss have built a career outside of their respective field and would like us to think that their opinion on why there is ‘something’ as opposed to ‘nothing’ is more valuable than the opinion of the community of auto mechanics or chefs. Undoubtedly, their opinion is not the only possible explanation, or the best explanation.

These evangelical atheists have hijacked science and conveniently use their authority in biology and physics to give Fatwa in an area that they have no expertise in, i.e. there is no God. There is nothing scientific about the proclamation that there is no God. Where is the scientific objectivity here? No one would take these two scientists seriously if they ever give a Fatwa on economic matters, since neither one knows anything about economy. So why would anyone think that they their atheism is anything more than their personal opinion emanating from their inner desires and agenda?

Atheist scientists claim that they go where the evidence leads them. While there is plenty of evidence against religious dogmatism, there is nothing via science to conclude atheism. They project their own subjective opinion on non-existence of a Creator as though it is a fact of logic derived from science, while paint the belief on the First Cause as though it is fact of psychology derived from gullibility and insecure emotions, like it cannot be the other way around.

The modern scientists can have a better understanding of the universe if they do not narrowly compartmentalize human knowledge into science and non-science, and not easily dismiss anything, which cannot be subject of empirical verification. Existence of the First Cause does not require empirical verification in a science lab. For lovers of the truth, the ultimate criteria should be the usage of reason in its fullest sense and the overarching law of non-contradiction, to examine all claims, be they deductive or inductive in order to assess the possibility of existence or non-existence of anything.

 

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Naturalism: A Fishy Perspective on Causality

Mehran Banaei

There is a famous Persian proverb about a curious little fish who confronted his father with a burning question: “Dad, what is this thing called water?” The young fish asked inquisitively. His father helplessly replied, “Son, I heard about it too, but to tell you the truth, I have absolutely no idea, no one has ever encountered water.”

The intended message behind this proverb is that while any question may seem valid to pose, one ought to be equipped with sufficient brainpower to comprehend the answer. Reality has to be accessible to the observer’s intellect and conceptualization is the key to understanding. While our brain can absorb many things, it certainly cannot conceptualize and absorb everything, simply because it does not have the capacity to comprehend the nature of all that exists.

One of the most frequent questions posed by atheists is that, if everything has a beginning and cause, then who caused the First Cause; that is to say where did the Originator of the Big Bang come from, and who created Him.

As a theist, I find this ubiquitous reductionistic approach unworthy of analysis, merely fitting for tabloids and gossip magazines. The question posed is irrelevant and totally unnecessary to put forth. For one, the Creator’s “personal life” does not really interest me, nor do I think I am equipped with enough cognitive capacity to understand His infinite uncaused nature. For mortal beings like us, trapped in a finite universe of cause and effect, it may seem difficult to envision that there could be an uncaused cause outside time and space dimensions who is not bounded by the laws of cause and effect. However, what I can easily grasp which matters most, is that I am here, did not need to be here, was not here at one point, and will not be here further down in time. While I am busy to make sense of my own existence, I have no interest to dwell on the nature of the First Cause, the Uncaused Cause. Deductive logic and inductive extrapolative evidence sufficiently attest to existence of an intelligent conscious Being outside of this universe; indeed, without Him the universe could not have existed. What is known to our intellect is enough to establish His existence; thus what do we need to know His “biography” for, which is inaccessible to our cognitive apparatus?

Atheists believe that nothing exists beyond the natural world. They make an incorrect assumption that outside of this caused universe, there could not be an Uncaused Entity, and that the Causer of the universe must also be caused, subject to His own laws. For the sake of discussion, let’s assume that the First Cause of the universe was caused by a bigger cause than Himself, if so, then who caused the “First Cause”, and so on. This erroneous approach would obviously lead to an infinite regression and unsettled conclusion, thus dismissible at the outset, yet it is continuously brought up by likes of Richard Dawkins. These atheists fail to understand that the cause of the universe cannot be within this universe, subject of the very laws of physics within the universe. That which creates cause and effect cannot be the subject of cause and effect. That which creates time and space cannot be the subject of time and space. That which creates time must be timeless. That which is timeless and eternal must be Uncaused.

It is now well established that the universe and time have had a beginning some 14 billion years ago. In discussing the origin of this created universe, what becomes inescapable is that causality has to be attributed to something, i.e. to mythological gods, a cosmic luck, blind processes of cosmic natural selection, a self-created universe aimlessly fashioned out of nothing, extraterrestrial more advanced than us, or to A Singular Uncaused Cause. It is our task to explore all explanations and determine which explanation is rational and makes more sense.

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By way of analogy, while fish do not have the capacity to deductively or inductively comprehend the existence of water, the existence of fish alone is a sufficient proof for the existence of water, whether the fish comprehends water and its dependence on it, or blatantly denies the existence of water. Yet atheists feel content with attributing the existence of 28,000 different stunning species of fish, each playing a role in the intricate balance of ecosystem to a keeper of an aquarium. The keeper being natural selection, laws of physics, mindlessness, etc. without articulating where did they come from. Thereby, blatantly committing the notorious fallacy of passing the buck.

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Propaganda and Brainwashing in Western Societies: The Power of the Media

Mehran Banaei

During the repressive totalitarian Soviet era, the Russian people were known to be among the most informed people in the world. Not that they had a better access to the news, on the contrary, their access to the real news was utterly restricted. However, Russians knew well that whatever their state controlled media propaganda machine was feeding them, was not true and the truth would most probably be the opposite of what was being constantly broadcasted.

Unfortunately the same cannot be said about the people in the West where the most coercive form of tyranny has been in effect inconspicuously, where the gullible masses are kept ignorant. Particularly in the North America to preserve governance, masses are constantly distracted by trivialities, spoon-fed with lies, and consequently kept in darkness. In this polluted atmosphere, deliberate manufactured endarkenment is considered as enlightenment, and an actual enlightenment is considered as dogma. Insisting on the truthfulness of the Truth is considered as radicalization. Unlike Russians, very few people in the West question the contents of the corporate media and are able to distinguish between news and propaganda. For the overwhelming majority, even if the truth is somehow leaked, it does not really matter to them that they were lied to all along. This bizarre indifferent attitude can only be the result of a premeditated systematic conditioning and desensitization.

Indeed, the most coercive form of tyranny is not that of the former Eastern Block system with KGB spies and surveillance cameras being present everywhere, but it is the one that prevents people from seeing the truth and removes the awareness of other possibilities. It is the one that makes it seem inconceivable that perhaps there are much better ways and viable socio-economic and political solutions. It is the one that removes the sense that there is a better world beyond our manufactured mental borders. It is the one that makes the people illusively think that they are in charge to govern their own affairs; yet they are being easily governed. It is the one that conditions people to erroneously feel liberated and well-versed freethinkers while they are actually in bondage. And above all, it is the one that makes the Truth look like a lethal idea and those who advocate it are monstrous fanatics to be feared.

Malcom X believed, the media is the most powerful entity on earth: “The media has the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent,” thereby, well capable to control the minds of the masses. Not surprisingly, he was labeled a radical rabble-rouser and was assassinated in the country that prides itself as a free polarized society. He realized that media is the prime working tool for the elite to subjugate the masses. Their prime goal has always been to create fear and divert attention from real accomplice of the crimes committed. Politics of fear dictates that bogymen are created and constantly demonized.

Fear

St. Augustine narrates the story of a pirate captured by the warmonger lunatic Alexander, pathetically tilted “the Great”, who asked him “how dare he molest the sea”. The pirate boldly replied: “How dare you molest the whole world”. “Because I do it with a little ship only, I am called a thief; you are doing the same thing with a great navy, yet are called an Emperor”.  Nothing has changed from those days other than the Emperor and pirate. The pirate is always to be feared, while the Emperor is supposedly the benevolent protector, a champion for democracy and human rights.

After the fall of the Soviet Union, the scapegoat changed from communist party to Islam. The religion that literal means peace, stands for justice and equality has been presented as one of the most violent and feared ideologies to combat. Deranged thugs and dictators who have never read the Quran are presented as faithful adherer of this religion, despite the fact that their conducts are at odds with the very basic tenets of Islam. But, why are there so much biases and double standards in the media and policies when it comes to Islam? Why does Islam have so many internal and external enemies? Is it possible that spread of Islam could pose a serious threat to the vested interests of certain groups? The answer is a most definite “yes”. Islam is no exception to rule and has many hostile enemies who cannot tolerate or afford its growth. Therefore,  for example could  the atrocities committed in the name of Islam by the so-called Muslims, like the Charlie Hebdo attack or 9/11 not simply be a false flag operation to demonize Muslims and ostracise Islam. It is not like the Western governments never engaged in covert operations or appealed to deception before. Their track records prove otherwise.

Hardly anybody in the West questions why the upper echelons that own the media resent Islam, and falsely portray this worldview in such a harsh manner. The simple reason is that it is due to the blatant fact that Islam, a comprehensive socio-political system, poses a deadly threat to the existing oligarchical structure of most parasitic and corrupt societies. For assuredly:

If Islam arises, it would neither allow nor tolerate the present unjust socio-economic set-up that sustains the current unfair system of distribution of wealth and resources.

If Islam arises, it would neither allow nor tolerate any move towards a control of the world resources, economies and political systems by a cabal of power-hungry elites.

If Islam arises, it would neither allow nor tolerate any system which would continuously piles-up a massive amount of arms and arsenal for its own profit and protection, while leaving its own grandmothers and grandfathers, begging homelessly on decrepit streets.

If Islam arises, it would neither allow nor tolerate any banking system that would callously and unjustly force a dispossession of one’s property, because of missed mortgage payments.

If Islam arises, it would neither allow nor tolerate any economic system which makes a huge profit by the degradation and destruction of the environment in various ways.

If Islam arises, it would neither allow nor tolerate the pharmaceutical industry in which its goal is blatantly set on repeat customers rather than curing the patient.

If Islam arises, it would neither allow nor tolerate a colossal alcohol industry that, like a vampire, drains the life-blood by providing a habituative obnoxious fluid to society at the expense of the predominant health, family and social complications.

If Islam arises, it would neither allow nor tolerate an industry which strips women off their clothes and dignity, and perpetuates promiscuity, immorality and family breakdown in society in order to inflate the wallets of executive pimps.

If Islam arises, it would neither allow nor tolerate a multi-billion dollar cosmetic and fashion industry, which replaces the intrinsic values of women with instrumental values, since its lifeline depends upon spreading illusory images to brainwash women to market themselves for disguised licentious men.

If Islam arises, it would neither allow nor tolerate an educational system which produces regurgitative automatonic relativists, who conform to machine-like systems and are blind to all of the above problems from cradle to grave.

Islam is a nuisance to the voracious conglamerates who own the world. Therefore, it would indeed be an exceedingly naive presumption that in this system anything good will ever be said about Islam, an ideology with many common enemies.

Voltaire, the famous French satirical polemicist, recognized the dubious soico-political system imposed by undemocratic established institutions of the day; he suggested that to learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize.

The answer will be clear to anyone who chooses to accept the truth unequivocally, that is one who does not have any vested interests, other than to know the reality of who is trying to run the show.

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Proper Perception and Appropriate Intervention: Both In and Out of Uniform

Mehran Banaei

Law enforcement officers around the world are required to successfully complete an intense use of force training. The objectives of the training are to enable officers to optimally react in real life situations, where an officer ought to physically control, disarm, or arrest a hostile aggressor, or a high risk assaultive criminal. The intent of the course is to be able to diligently keep the assailant restrained in compliance with the law, keep the public safe until backup arrives. Henceforth, the subject is safely transported to a secure environment. The training is not intended to make tough sharp shooters, but rather make law enforcement officers safe, more perceptive, reactive and proactive. The mechanism by which an officer can successfully achieve the intended goal is to develop the ability to identify the threat cues, read body language, always expect the unexpected, make sound risk assessment, and in time, respond appropriately to what suddenly unfolds.

PoliceOfficers

The accurate recognition of signs, body language and threat cues can indeed distinguish a dangerous hostile subject from a cooperative subject. In so doing, one’s mind has to be always 100% alert. Officers cannot afford daydreaming on the job, or be impaired. One wrong move could be unforgiving. The failure to be vigilant could be lethal to the officer, his/her partner(s), innocent bystanders or the subject.

Officers are provided with essential tools required for the task: a pair of handcuffs, defensive baton, OC spray, handgun and a communication device for which they are duly accountable for to use, or not to use. Prior to completion of the training, officers are given scenarios where they enter into a hypothetical situation, ought to successfully assess the situation and demonstrate their acquired skills. To pass they must be able to accurately absorb all the threat cues, assess the risks involved and appropriately intervene to the given dynamic situation at hand. Pass or fail depends on the decision made by the officer. The decision made has to be effective, having implemented a balanced use of force. Lastly, they ought to be able to rationally articulate the rationale behind their decision, and the subsequent intervention made. Once on the job, the same requirements go for each real situation that the officer is deployed to, the articulation will be made to either a supervisor, or in a judicial tribunal.

Undoubtedly, the most crucial part of the training is the recognition of the signs and act accordingly. In the above clip, the dispatched officer to the scene made an initial poor risk assessment by entering into subject’s house without his partner. Furthermore, he failed to recognize that subject’s right hand in his pocket could mean that he is holding a weapon. Tragically, such a mistake costed him his life.

The hypothetical scenarios and real life situations are indeed miniature models of reality of our existence on this planet. In a lifetime of dancing on earth, every observer is like an officer, witnessing countless signs and indicators, where each sign would indubitably display a message. At our disposal, we are equipped with the necessary tools, such as our senses to collect information, and a complex brain to process the collected data for intervention. We have learned that universe did not exist 13.7 billion years ago, prior to the Big Bang, that suddenly, matter, energy, time and space were brought into existence from oblivious non-existence. What would this fact alone indicate? According to Roger Penrose, the odds against such an occurrence by accident were on the order of 10 to the power of 10 to the 123 to 1. This means 1 followed by 10 to 123 zeros. After the Big Bang, if the rate of the expansion of the universe were as different as 1 in 1,000,000,000,000,000,000, life on earth would not have evolved the way it is. What would this cue lead us to conclude? When we study the enormous complexity of the DNA Double Helix structure, we learn that each human DNA molecule is comprised of chemical bases arranged in approximately 3 billion precise sequences without which life would not be possible. What would this fact alone dictate?

Patterns

Amazing fractal pattern of Romanesco broccoli, rich in vitamins and dietary fiber: Is this a sign of chance creation or intelligent design?

All signs indicate that the universe is remarkably created to host life, not just a life, but a life to be probed and enjoyed. Life is to be enjoyed whether one is having a meal, hearing symphonies played by birds and insects, seeing marvelous colours combination displayed in nature, in the starry night, smell of a rose, holding a loved one in one’s arms; all have a profound message to each participant. The ubiquitous message is that the universe is caused intelligently and is pursuing an intention. Indeed, what all these decisive cues that we process during our lifetime are telling us? Having observed such signs, what is the proper intervention to take? How is it possible for one to miss all these indicators one after another, and yet articulate one’s decision for no intervention?

An officer thinking like Richard Dawkins would be dead on his first day of the job if he assumes that a confronted assailant with a knife in his hand is only an illusion of a dangerous assailant. And the knife is not a real knife, but has only the appearance of a knife designed to kill. The assailant’s attacking posture and verbal assaults are only an illusion of hostility. In his articulation, a Dawkinsist would like to assert that now, when science can explain how the knife is manufactured and got in there, we would then need not to worry about its implications.

Officer Peter Atkins would assume that only a man with a lazy mind would interpret that an assailant charging at one with an aimed knife is an indication of hostility. According to him there are no compelling cues worthy of consideration for intervention.

Officer Sigmund Freud would interpret a pointed knife as wishful thinking, man’s oldest desire for emotional comfort. The appropriate course of action according to him would be an inhibited sexual freedom from childhood.

Officer Karl Marx would interpret a pointed knife as opium of the mind, his intervention would be creation of a classless society governed by social justice loving working class.

Officer David Hume would state, in his articulation, spout that a career criminal with extensive criminal convictions of armed robbery entering a bank with a shotgun and a getaway car parked in front of the bank does not necessarily entail bank robbery is in process. Hume’s intervention according to his philosophy, is to walk away from the crime scene as we are only psychologically conditioned to expect a felony that the armed man will run out of the bank with bags of cash in his hands.

Like Hume, Officer Stephen Fry walks away from the crime scene with no intervention made. Fry articulates that he sees no threat cues because there are children on hospital beds suffering from cancer.

On the other hand, there are others who would go to the opposite extreme and wrongfully interpret circumstantial cues often displayed inadvertently as a sign of hostility and react inappropriately with excessive use of force. For example, Abubakr Al-Baghdadi of the so-called ISIS may pull out his machine gun and shoot several times at a passive resisting social activist with no criminal history or intent, giving a horrible name to the agency that he claims to represent. Like Dawkins, Al-Baghdadi is guilty of misreading the cues. Other extremists like Benjamin Netanyahu would deliberately bomb a country and annihilate an entire defenseless population for a non-existing threat. In his articulation, Netanyahu proudly asserts that his actions are only result of self-defense.

Do we have a ground to stand on for any wrong intervention or rather total lack of it? In a universe engulfed with zillions improbable order and harmony, can we articulate that it is self-created, accidental or purposeless? What happens if at the end of life’s journey, we do have to articulate our decisions made to the Entity that caused the universe, be that Natural Selection or what have you. Indeed, it will be too late to make an optimal reaction to the omnipresent cues of the cosmos when the scenario is over.

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