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February 27 2015

Pre-print of Dr. Avijit Roy’s final article for Free Inquiry, to be published in the upcoming April/May issue:
***  “The Virus of Faith” [free PDF-download]  *** 

The Virus of Faith 
by Avijit Roy (1972 - 26 Feb 2015)

Religion, a medieval form of unreason, when combined with modern weaponry becomes a real threat to our freedoms.
—Salman Rushdie

On January 7, 2015, the world witnessed a tragic atrocity committed by soldiers of the so-called religion of peace when two masked Islamists armed with assault rifles entered the offices of Charlie Hebdo (a French satirical weekly newspaper) and killed twelve people, including two police officers, three cartoonists, and seven journalists. The gunmen were heard shouting “Allahu Akbar” (“God is great” in Arabic) and “We have avenged the Prophet Muhammad.” A mere three weeks before, on December 16, 2014, nine gunmen affiliated with the Pakistani Taliban conducted a terrorist attack in Peshawar, Pakistan. They entered a school, opened fire, and killed 145 people, 132 of whom were schoolchildren.

To me, such religious extremism is like a highly contagious virus. My own recent experiences in this regard verify the horrific reality that such religious extremism is a “virus of faith.”

It all started with a book. A national book fair (popularly known as the Ekushey Book Fair) is held every February in Bangladesh. Newly published books are displayed in more than five hundred stalls. Literally thousands of people come to the fair every day and enjoy buying new books. Publishers start preparing for this event quite early as they try to get their books ready for the frenzy of the fair. One of my recent publishers, Jagriti Prakashani, timed the publication of my book Biswasher Virus (Bengali for "The Virus of Faith") to coincide with the book fair of 2014.

As soon as the book was released, it rose to the top of the fair’s bestseller list. At the same time, it hit the cranial nerve of Islamic fundamentalists. The death threats started flowing to my e-mail inbox on a regular basis. I suddenly found myself a target of militant Islamists and terrorists. A well-known extremist by the name of Farabi Shafiur Rahman openly issued death threats to me through his numerous Facebook statuses. In one widely circulated status, Rahman wrote, “Avijit Roy lives in America and so, it is not possible to kill him right now. But he will be murdered when he comes back.”

Continue reading: full-text PDF-download

Dr. Avijit Roy was a Bangladeshi-American blogger, published author, and prominent defender of the freethought movement in Bangladesh. He was well-known for his writings on his self-founded site, Mukto-Mona — an Internet congregation of freethinkers, rationalists, skeptics, atheists, and humanists of mainly Bengali and South Asian descent. As an advocate of atheism, science, and metaphysical naturalism, he published eight Bengali books, and many of his articles have been published in magazines and journals. His last two books, Obisshahser Dorshon (The Philosophy of Disbelief) and Biswasher Virus (The Virus of Faith), have been critically well-received and are popular Bengali books on science, skepticism, and rationalism. At press time, we learned that Dr. Roy was killed and his wife injured by unknown assailants while visiting Bangladesh.
Tags: religion
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Avijit Roy and his wife Rafida Ahmed Banna.
Tags: religion
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Sponsored post
Bloggers on hit-list posted by Islamist group in Bangladesh
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R.I.P. Avijit Roy (murdered 26 February 2015)
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R.I.P. Avijit Roy (murdered 26 February 2015)

Author of the blog "Mukto-mona" encouraging freethinking, humanism, and rationalism in Bangladesh (closed by government):

Mukto-mona (Internet Archive, captured 26 Okt 2014)
Tags: religion
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February 26 2015

Ecce homo
Reposted byatheismcliffordkuroinekochrisrobalbesencygenb0ckastridBlue-singdanielbohrerhanspeterwurstsaddamjabolmaxjestemzeroPumpkineerininaTehawanka
Ecce homo
Reposted byatheismcliffordcygenb0ckastridBlue-singanonyhanspeterwurstsaddamjestemzeroPumpkineerininaTehawankaRudadredka

January 13 2015


Cover of Charlie Hebdo, Wednesday, Jan 14, 2015:

All is forgiven!
Tags: religion
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January 10 2015


The Second Death: the devil torturing souls as well as being tortured himself in hell

"And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire: this is the second death. And whosoeuer was not found written in the booke of life, was cast into the lake of fire." [Rev 20:14-15 KJB]

(Très Riches Heures du duc de Berry, 1411/16 CE, Musée Condé, Ms.65, f.108r)
Tags: religion arts
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Mahomet débordé par les intégristes:
"C'est dur d'être aimé par des cons"

Charlie Hebdo, 2006.

(Muhammad overwhelmed by fundamentalists:
"It's hard to be loved by idiots".)
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Classic Muhammad cartoon by Kurt Westergaard, 2005.
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Muhammad (far right, with white turban), along with Buraq and Gabriel, visit Hell, and see demons punishing the ungodly and scornful.

(Source: Mirâj Nâmeh, commissioned by Shah Rukh in Khorasan c.1436 CE (840 AH), Bibliothèque nationale de France, Département des manuscrits, Supplément turc 190, page 65r.)
For more pictures of Muhammad by islamic artists, see:
Muhammad Image Archive.
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January 07 2015

With sincere condolences to the brave editors of Charlie Hebdo.

No One Murdered Because Of This Image
(the Onion, Sep 13, 2012)

WASHINGTON — Following the publication of the image above, in which the most cherished figures from multiple religious faiths were depicted engaging in a lascivious sex act of considerable depravity, no one was murdered, beaten, or had their lives threatened, sources reported Thursday. The image of the Hebrew prophet Moses high-fiving Jesus Christ as both are having their erect penises vigorously masturbated by Ganesha, all while the Hindu deity anally penetrates Buddha with his fist, reportedly went online at 6:45 p.m. EDT, after which not a single bomb threat was made against the organization responsible, nor did the person who created the cartoon go home fearing for his life in any way. Though some members of the Jewish, Christian, Hindu, and Buddhist faiths were reportedly offended by the image, sources confirmed that upon seeing it, they simply shook their heads, rolled their eyes, and continued on with their day.
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November 14 2014

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October 17 2014

A Universe from Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather than Nothing
by Lawrence M. Krauss
224 pages, Atria Books, 2012


Lawrence Krauss’s provocative answers to these and other timeless questions in a wildly popular lecture now on YouTube have attracted almost a million viewers. The last of these questions in particular has been at the center of religious and philosophical debates about the existence of God, and it’s the supposed counterargument to anyone who questions the need for God. As Krauss argues, scientists have, however, historically focused on other, more pressing issues—such as figuring out how the universe actually functions, which can ultimately help us to improve the quality of our lives.

Now, in a cosmological story that rivets as it enlightens, pioneering theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss explains the groundbreaking new scientific advances that turn the most basic philosophical questions on their heads. One of the few prominent scientists today to have actively crossed the chasm between science and popular culture, Krauss reveals that modern science is addressing the question of why there is something rather than nothing, with surprising and fascinating results. The staggeringly beautiful experimental observations and mind-bending new theories are all described accessibly in A Universe from Nothing, and they suggest that not only can something arise from nothing, something will always arise from nothing.

With his characteristic wry humor and wonderfully clear explanations, Krauss takes us back to the beginning of the beginning, presenting the most recent evidence for how our universe evolved—and the implications for how it’s going to end. It will provoke, challenge, and delight readers as it looks at the most basic underpinnings of existence in a whole new way. And this knowledge that our universe will be quite different in the future from today has profound implications and directly affects how we live in the present. As Richard Dawkins has described it: This could potentially be the most important scientific book with implications for supernaturalism since Darwin.

A fascinating antidote to outmoded philosophical and religious thinking, A Universe from Nothing is a provocative, game-changing entry into the debate about the existence of God and everything that exists. “Forget Jesus,” Krauss has argued, “the stars died so you could be born.”
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God's Planet
by Owen Gingerich
192 pages, Harvard University Press (October 22, 2014)


With exoplanets being discovered daily, Earth is still the only planet we know of that is home to creatures who seek a coherent explanation for the structure, origins, and fate of the universe, and of humanity’s place within it. Today, science and religion are the two major cultural entities on our planet that share this goal of coherent understanding, though their interpretation of evidence differs dramatically. Many scientists look at the known universe and conclude we are here by chance. The renowned astronomer and historian of science Owen Gingerich looks at the same evidence—along with the fact that the universe is comprehensible to our minds—and sees it as proof for the planning and intentions of a Creator-God. He believes that the idea of a universe without God is an oxymoron, a self-contradiction. God’s Planet exposes the fallacy in thinking that science and religion can be kept apart.

Gingerich frames his argument around three questions: Was Copernicus right, in dethroning Earth from its place at the center of the universe? Was Darwin right, in placing humans securely in an evolving animal kingdom? And was Hoyle right, in identifying physical constants in nature that seem singularly tuned to allow the existence of intelligent life on planet Earth? Using these episodes from the history of science, Gingerich demonstrates that cultural attitudes, including religious or antireligious beliefs, play a significant role in what passes as scientific understanding. The more rigorous science becomes over time, the more clearly God’s handiwork can be comprehended.

God's Universe
by The Same Author
160 pages, Belknap Press, 2006

We live in a universe with a very long history, a vast cosmos where things are being worked out over unimaginably long ages. Stars and galaxies have formed, and elements come forth from great stellar cauldrons. The necessary elements are present, the environment is fit for life, and slowly life forms have populated the earth. Are the creative forces purposeful, and in fact divine?

Owen Gingerich believes in a universe of intention and purpose. We can at least conjecture that we are part of that purpose and have just enough freedom that conscience and responsibility may be part of the mix. They may even be the reason that pain and suffering are present in the world. The universe might actually be comprehensible.

Taking Johannes Kepler as his guide, Gingerich argues that an individual can be both a creative scientist and a believer in divine design--that indeed the very motivation for scientific research can derive from a desire to trace God's handiwork. The scientist with theistic metaphysics will approach laboratory problems much the same as does his atheistic colleague across the hall. Both are likely to view the astonishing adaptations in nature with a sense of surprise, wonder, and mystery.

In God's Universe Gingerich carves out "a theistic space" from which it is possible to contemplate a universe where God plays an interactive role, unnoticed yet not excluded by science.
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October 14 2014

Location of the Paradise (in modern Kurdistan).
Augustin Calmet: Dictionnaire historique de la bible. Paris 1722.
Tags: religion
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September 26 2014

Tags: religion
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September 24 2014


September 22 2014

Tags: arts religion
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