Archive for August, 2008

Ockham’s Razor

August 16, 2008

The bane of my existence:

To challenge a religious belief, you need at least one Ph.d.

To be a missionary, you need to be breathing. (Strike that. Breathing is optional.)

The net result of this is that the vast, vast majority of people are told that they “just don’t understand”, while at the same time every idiot with a messenger-of-God complex gets a free pass.

To me, it’s simple. If I were sitting at a coffee shop and some guy walked up to me with two stone tablets and told me that the writing on it was done by a god, I’d get the hell out of there. If someone told me that angels or demons were chasing them, I’d probably assume that they were off their meds.

Why is it that when we deal with the exact same situation in a history book we’re supposed to be reverent and awe struck?


The Split between Islam and Judaism

August 14, 2008

There’s something in my brain that keeps me up at night, thinking about ridiculously old religious history. I’ve tried massive amounts of Jack Daniel’s, but this only leads to thinking about ridiculously old religious history with bed spins and nausea. I don’t recommend it.

Anyway, I have decided to try blogging it.

Tonight I’m mulling over the original split between Islam and Judaism. One might figure (as Islam didn’t come into existence until the sixth century) that this split would have happened sometime after that. Amazingly enough, however, the official Muslim doctrine traces the split between Islam and Judaism to a couple thousand years before Islam existed. (And people wonder why this stuff keeps me up at night…)

The official story is that, up to a point, Islam and Judaism were the same religion. Theologically, they were the same people worshiping the same god up to the point where Abraham enters the picture.

For those of you who are anxiously looking to your bible to figure out where that is, you will find that the split happened in Genesis. [The book of the bible, not the “Lamb Lies Down on Broadway” ‘70s band.]

The story goes like this:

Among his other kids, Abraham supposedly had two sons, Ismail and Isaac that he loved very much. So, of course, God/Yahweh/Allah told Abraham that he should kill his most beloved son by traipsing him all the way up Mount Moriah, strapping him to an altar, and then gutting and burning him. (Note: There’s no real reason that you needed to know the name of the mountain, but it sounds like something out of Lord of the Rings, so I thought I would throw it in.)


The Christians and the Jews say it was Isaac who was to be sacrificed. The Muslims believe it was Ismail. In the bible, Genesis 22 says it was Isaac who was supposed to be filleted. The Quran never mentions which son it was. Long story short: The sacrifice was scrapped at the last second, and God told Abraham to sacrifice a goat instead. We will ignore for the moment how ridiculously unfair these bible stories are for the goat population. The important part is that this is where the faiths of Judaism and Islam supposedly diverged.

Jews believe that, after killing a rather confused and bewildered ram, Isaac and Abraham went off to found the nation of Israel.

Muslims believe that, after killing the rather confused and bewildered ram, Abraham and Ismail went off to modern day Saudi Arabia, where they remade the Kabah, the holiest artifact in Islam. They also believe that Ismail founded the Arab race, and that their prophet, Mohamed, was a descendant of Ismail. To the Muslims, this is the real start of their religion as a separate entity from the Jews.

The Jews kinda look at this as a fable. As far as they are concerned, Ismail was Isaac’s brother and they really have no idea what he did after Genesis 22. The one thing they believe he did not do, however, was take off to Saudi Arabia with Abraham. They know this because their stories tell tales of Abraham after the whole roast-a-goat episode on the mountain.

Me? I think the split happened far, far later. About the time when Mohammed was trying to take Mecca from the polytheists when he was just starting out. Back thenm the Jews and Muslims were fighting beside each other as monotheists against the evil polytheists who lived in Mecca.

Just before the final battle a group of Jews (who figured Mohamed was going to lose) secretly made plans to turn against Mohamed and side with his enemies. If it had worked, it would have divided Mohamed army at the height of battle, opening his ranks to Meccan offense.

It never happened.

Mohamed caught wind of the plan and, instead of letting on that he knew about it, he spread rumors through Medina that the Meccans were going to betray the Jews. He then had spies spread rumors through Mecca that the Jews were going to betray the Meccans.

By the time the battle happened, Mohamed had everybody so damn confused that they didn’t know what to do. Mohamed won the battle. As a special thank-you to the Jews for their disloyalty, he had the men beheaded and the women and children sold into slavery.

Seem to me that this is a far, far better guess at where the disparity between the faiths really started. I mean, let’s face it, beheading all the men and selling the women into slavery is slightly more antagonistic than trying to figure out which brother was supposed to be sacrificed on Mount Moriah.

So why is this so important, you ask? Well, it’s not. It’s just 3am and I’m bored so I’ve been bouncing the idea around in my brain. But I thought “What the hell… people read my blog, they might as well know what I’m thinking about.”

Now I’m thinking about the leftover Italian sausage in the fridge. Third shelf, next to the mustard…

  • This post was written by Wm. Hopper,

    August 13, 2008