Tuesday, August 7, 2018

The Polarization of America

This chart compares the two philosophies which underlie the political and cultural war which is tearing our country apart.  The columns represent generalizations, of course, which do not take into account some of the nuances and variations found in these systems.

Some people will be tempted to pick and choose from both philosophies.  But, the choice between limiting government and enlarging government is rather stark.   And, we are assured by history, that certain consequences will inevitably follow.  We are bidden, therefore, to choose wisely!

For other material on politics, open the Politics & History tab.

Click to download PDF (8.5x14) for the latest version 
(image below is not a current version)

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Islam by the Numbers: A New Global Study on Muslim Beliefs & Practices

Eight months in the making, this report provides the first global statistics on Muslim beliefs and practices as they relate to security, terrorism, and the potential threat to Western culture.  The surveys covered 1.1 billion Muslims---about two-thirds of the Muslim population based on a 2010 estimate.

Here is an overview of the study from the Executive Summary:
  • Sectarian divisions are a major source of conflict within Islam. Each sect believes it represents the true teaching of the Quran and the Prophet Muhammad. 67% (736.3 million) of Muslims surveyed believe that there is only one true interpretation of Islam’s teachings. Disagreements over the interpretation of Islam have sometimes resulted in deadly violence, mostly between Sunnis and Shias. In the Middle East and South Asia, there are tens of thousands of sectarian militants whose actions could spark a broader conflict (Q1).

  • Very devout Muslims—those who say their lives reflect the hadith and the sunna to a considerable degree—comprise 41% (369.7 million) of the survey population. They are more likely to say that sharia (Islamic law) is the revealed word of Allah, that Islam and sharia have only one interpretation, that proselytizing is a religious duty, and that sharia should be the official law of their country (Q2). They are also probably more likely to support extreme punishments such as amputation and stoning. 

  • Though Muslims are evenly divided over the belief that there is only one interpretation of sharia, 69% of Muslims (741.8 million) in the survey countries favor making sharia the official law of their country (Q3, Q4) and 64% (581 million) believe it is the revealed word of Allah (Q4aa).

  • About one-third to one-half of Muslims in the survey countries (274.0 million - 463.3 million) believe sharia should be applied to non-Muslims in some way, and support extreme punishments such as whippings, amputations, stoning for adultery, and the death penalty for apostasy (Q5-Q8).

  • About one-third of Muslims surveyed (349.4 million - 361.8 million) support the forced veiling of women and say that honor killings are justified, in at least some circumstances, for women who commit pre or extra-marital sex (Q9, Q10)

  • Nearly 33% (333.7 million) of Muslims surveyed said they are concerned about Islamic extremist groups in their country (few were concerned about Christian extremists). Nearly 17% (177.1 million) said that violence against civilians can be justified in order to “defend Islam from its enemies.” The defense of Islam can be broader than resistance to armed attacks. For many Muslims, insulting Islam or Muhammad is regarded as an attack on Islam (Q11, Q12).

  • 46% (503.5 million) of Muslims surveyed believe in the “evil eye”—that certain people can cast curses or spells that cause bad things to happen to others. They also believe that its power can be overcome by incantations (ruqyah) and washings. These beliefs are based on the teachings and examples of Muhammad found in the canonical traditions, or hadith (Q13).

  • Nearly one-third of Muslims in the survey population (353.6 million) believe there is a natural conflict between being a devout religious person and living in a modern society. Most Muslims agree that Western music, movies, and television pose a threat to morality in their country (Q14).

  • In addition to the high degree of support for sharia, about one-third to one-half of Muslims (274.0 million - 503.5 million) in the survey uphold beliefs and practices (mostly related to sharia) that are contrary to many Western values, such as separation of religion and state, religious and individual freedom, freedom of speech, equality of persons under the law, protection from cruel and unusual punishment, the right of self-determination, gender equality, and the rejection of superstition (Q5, Q6, Q7, Q8, Q9, Q10, Q13, Q14).

Security, Terrorism, and the Potential Threat to Western Culture
  • A pre-scientific worldview continues to inhibit Islamic historical and scientific inquiry.
  • Very devout Muslims are likely to reject the legitimacy of Western laws and government.
  • Converting non-Muslims and promoting sharia are religious imperatives (Q15).
  • Intolerance of non-Muslims is widespread and continues to be taught.
  • Terrorism can be religiously justified to defend the integrity and reputation of Islam.
  • Over 100 million Muslims can justify acts of terrorism in the defense of Islam.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Will Palestinians Create a Fundamentalist Islamic Country?

The Palestinian Territories, consisting of the West Bank and Gaza, are home to about 4.3 million
Palestinians (2012 estimate).
  • Gaza:           1.7 million  (99.3% Muslim) 
  • West Bank:  2.6 million  (75% Muslim) 
Gaza is governed mostly by sharia law under the authority of Hamas, which is designated as a terrorist group by many Western countries. The West Bank, which is under Israeli military control, is governed by the Palestinian Authority.  The PA is a parliamentary system that rules by a complex amalgamation of secular law, Islamic law, and custom (ʿurf).

In 2002 the Palestinians signed into law a transitional constitution which not only declared Islam to be the official religion of Palestine, but also asserted that, “The principles of Islamic Sharia shall be the main source of legislation” (Article 4).

Several groups protested this constitution in preference for the “Democratic Secular State” proposed by the Fatah party.   However, based on a comprehensive Pew Research survey conducted in 2012 (see below), as well as a more recent survey, Muslims across the Palestinian Territories would welcome the formation of an Islamic nation once Palestine is cut loose from Israeli control.  89% favor making sharia the law of the land.

Unfortunately, a large majority of Palestinian Muslims support a draconian form of sharia that embraces the hudud punishments. These are among the most severe penalties found anywhere and violate universal human rights.
  • Whippings and amputations: 76% 
  • Stoning for adultery: 84% 
  • Death penalty for apostates: 66% 
In addition to support for the hudud penalties, nearly half of the Palestinian Muslims are willing to impose sharia on non-Muslims (44%). Nearly half can justify attacking civilians in defense of Islam (40%). And, nearly half can justify honor killings (48%), and support the forced veiling of women (42%).

In their struggle for independence, the Palestinians have made human rights their cause célèbre.  But, following the precedent set in Gaza, they are prepared to institute an intolerant religious state while paradoxically claiming to hold the moral high ground against Israel.
Palestinian Muslims (2012) 

Q66. Sharia law is the revealed word of Allah, rather than a form of law developed by men and based on the word of Allah—75%

Q79a. Muslims who favor making sharia the official law of their country—89%

Q81. Muslims who say sharia should apply to all citizens (among those who favor making sharia the law of the land)—44%

Q92c. Muslims who support “hudud” penalties such as whippings or cutting off the hands of thieves and robbers (among those who favor making sharia the law of the land)—76%

Q92d. Muslims who favor stoning as a punishment for adultery (among those who favor making sharia the law of the land)—84%

Q92b. Muslims who favor the death penalty for converts—i.e., those who leave Islam (among those who favor making sharia the law of the land)—66%

Q89. Muslims who say attacks against civilians (including suicide bombings) in defense of Islam can be often/sometimes justified—40%

Q54. Muslims who say honor killings are justified (often, sometimes, or rarely) as punishment for women who commit pre- or extra-marital sex—48%

Q58. Muslims who do NOT believe women should have the right to decide if they wear a veil42% 

Friday, March 23, 2018

The Global Warming Picture Book

In this super-colorful, four page booklet, I answer the central question:   

"Does CO2 control global temperature?"  The answer is not a simple "yes" or "no."  My goal is to present a more nuanced view of the controversy than you will find in most media articles or discussions.   

For my other climate publications, click on the Climate Science tab.

A Brief Portrait of Muhammad from 7th and 8th Century Christian Writers

This well organized and concise article puts it all together: 

Muhammad the Initiator of the Conquests
Muhammad the Trader
Muhammad the King
Muhammad the Monotheist Revivalist
Muhammad the Lawgiver
Muhammad the Prophet/False Prophet

The author, a major scholar in the field of Islamic studies, concludes by evaluating the utility of these sources: “Since the Muslim perception of Muhammad underwent major change during this period, this means that Christian sources can sometimes provide evidence for this change where Muslim sources are silent.”

See: “The Earliest Christian Writings on Muhammad: An Appraisal” by Robert Hoyland (2000)

Sunday, January 28, 2018

14 Reasons Why America is 
Not a Racist Country

If you listen to the diatribes of some on the Left, you might conclude that this country is still hopelessly bound by the cords of bigotry.  “Brown skinned” people, we are told, are oppressed to insure the continuation of white supremacy.   Incidents of racism still occur in the United States, to be sure, but we are far and away from being a nation of white oppressors.  Anyone comparing America today to America in 1960 would see a different country.
  1.   America ended slavery in 1865.
  2.   African-American men were given the right to vote in 1869 (women in 1920).
  3.   Jim Crow laws were struck down in the 1950’s and 1960’s. 
  4.   We have 50+ years of civil rights legislation, beginning with the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
  5.   There are affirmative action programs at nearly every level of society.
  6.   Desegregation school busing was mandated across the country.
  7.   The KKK, once numbering millions, now numbers less than 8,000.
  8.   A black president was elected to two terms in office.
  9.   There are 45 black Representatives in the United States House of Representatives.
  10.   Millions of non-white immigrants from across the globe still seek entry into the U.S.
  11.   Indians and Asians are the top performers in many of our schools and professions.
  12.   Black athletes are heavily represented in many professional sports.
  13.   87% of Americans approve of interracial marriage (compared to only 4% in 1958).
  14.   87% of Americans believe that DACA immigrants should be allowed to remain in the U.S.

See also”Is America Racist?” https://www.prageru.com/playlists/america-racist-0#1 (5 min video)