Sunday, May 20, 2007

Bronze Dogma #1: The Quran, 1:1 to 2:62

Welcome to what might become a new series over here at The Bronze Blog. I'll be going over holy books with some of my commentary. Since I've done a fair bit of the Bible, and so have many other skeptical/atheist blogs I know, I'll be going over the Quran. This is primarily since I've heard a lot of Christians claiming that we're too cowardly or we're specifically anti-Christian, and thus we'll never touch Islam. Well, one recent event has spurred me on to do this series. Please note that I'm primarily focused on the fundies out there, and I recognize that there are people in every religion with enough civility to ignore or disregard the inherently disgusting parts of their religion.

One note: I feel I should have some sort of pun for the series name, if not relevant to dogs, at least to bronze. If I started with the Bible, I'd probably go for something like 'Bronze Age Woo' or something like that, but I'm not certain the label will apply to various religions. If you've got any good ideas, drop them in the comments.

So, anyway, this series will be my analysis of holy books, and I'll cover them as I feel like it. For the sake of boosting my weekend ratings, I may try doing this every Sunday.

So, without further ado, Here's my analysis of the start of the Quran:
1:1 In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.
1:2 Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds,
1:3 The Beneficent, the Merciful.
1:4 Master of the Day of Judgment,
1:5 Thee (alone) we worship; Thee (alone) we ask for help.
1:6 Show us the straight path,
1:7 The path of those whom Thou hast favoured; Not the (path) of those who earn Thine anger nor of those who go astray.
Well, first we have a declaration that Allah is merciful. I may not have done much previous research of the Quran, but I have a feeling he won't be all that different from the Christian deity. We can already see a start towards that by mentioning his anger. Granted, it's possible, at least for us mortals, to be angry and remain civil, but that behavior isn't well known among the deities I've read about.

Chapter 2 is a bit longer, so I won't copy-paste the whole thing. I'll pick out some choice bits, though:
2:2 This is the Scripture whereof there is no doubt, a guidance unto those who ward off (evil).
If there's no doubt, why am I still an atheist? It's much like the Christian line that "we all know in our hearts God exists" rationalization. Only this time, it's Muslims doing it. Reminds me of a Colbert skit on the Daily Show.
2:3 Who believe in the Unseen, and establish worship, and spend of that We have bestowed upon them;
Thankfully, science doesn't need belief in the unseen: We can prove it experimentally by seeing its results on the things we can see.
2:4 And who believe in that which is revealed unto thee (Muhammad) and that which was revealed before thee, and are certain of the Hereafter.
Certainty is a very bad thing. It's much better to merely have confidence based on evidence.
2:6 As for the Disbelievers, Whether thou warn them or thou warn them not it is all one for them; they believe not.
2:7 Allah hath sealed their hearing and their hearts, and on their eyes there is a covering. Theirs will be an awful doom.
Seems to me that Allah has arbitrarily and sadistically decided to send some doom to some people, and decided to make it unavoidable. Kind of reminds me of God hardening Pharoh's heart in Exodus so that God would get the opportunity to flex his almighty muscles with all the plagues and drowning the Egyptian army in the Red Sea. I bet we'll be seeing a passage like this followed by a mention of 'glory'.
2:8 And of mankind are some who say: We believe in Allah and the Last Day, when they believe not.
Here's a No True Scotsman made to order. This is followed by a lot of passages trying to drum up their eeeee-villeness.
2:22 Who hath appointed the earth a resting-place for you, and the sky a canopy; and causeth water to pour down from the sky, thereby producing fruits as food for you. And do not set up rivals to Allah when ye know (better).
Those who keep track of flat-Earthers may recognize this: The sky depicted as a ceiling.
2:24 And if ye do it not - and ye can never do it - then guard yourselves against the Fire prepared for disbelievers, whose fuel is of men and stones.
Well, here's the familiar argumentum ad baculum. Think it'd be more or less effective if it was presented to Christians?
2:27 Those who break the covenant of Allah after ratifying it, and sever that which Allah ordered to be joined, and (who) make mischief in the earth: Those are they who are the losers.
Seems kind of funny that they chose 'losers' as the descriptive term. Sounds kind of teenagery today, doesn't it? I also find the repetition of 'mischief' to be slightly amusing. Imagine if the 10 Commandments were called "The 10 Naughty Things You're Not Supposed to Do". Not quite so forceful. Curiously, I notice that there hasn't really been much said about what to believe at this point, other than some guy who'll roast you if you don't believe in whatever.

Next up is some weird thing where Adam's told to play some naming game with the angels, and they're told to worship him. One angel named Iblis doesn't seem up to it. Finally, we're getting to Genesis with Adam being told not to take the cookie from the cookie jar. It shifts towards Satan doing something obscured by weird language and God/Allah talking about Israel, and a sloppy recap of Exodus. Mohammed must not have been into narrative format. Next up:
2:61 And when ye said: O Moses! We are weary of one kind of food; so call upon thy Lord for us that He bring forth for us of that which the earth groweth - of its herbs and its cucumbers and its corn and its lentils and its onions. He said: Would ye exchange that which is higher for that which is lower ? Go down to settled country, thus ye shall get that which ye demand. And humiliation and wretchedness were stamped upon them and they were visited with wrath from Allah. That was because they disbelieved in Allah's revelations and slew the prophets wrongfully. That was for their disobedience and transgression.
2:62 Lo! Those who believe (in that which is revealed unto thee, Muhammad), and those who are Jews, and Christians, and Sabaeans - whoever believeth in Allah and the Last Day and doeth right - surely their reward is with their Lord, and there shall no fear come upon them neither shall they grieve.
One moment, it's implied that it was okay not to believe in Jesus (as a prophet), and then it is okay. Of course, the Skeptic's Annotated version is already noting some inconsistencies.

And I think that makes for a good stopping place for now. So, any thoughts?


Joshua said...

Maybe a really general name like "Bronzed Books", which you can subtitle with the name of whatever book you happen to be covering. So, in this case, "Bronzed Books: The Koran".

Mostly it's because I like the alliteration, but the idea of a bronze-plated book is amusing as well. It's like they couldn't quite affording the gilding but wanted to stick something shiny on the thing anyway.

Anonymous said...

Ahem. "Bronze Dogma."

Don said...

I second "Bronze Dogma."

Anonymous said...

Well, I don't have the time to research what time period this is, but I like "Bronze Age Babbling". Along with what Joshua said about including something about which book you're doing. I.e. "Bronze Age Babbling: The Quran".

Anonymous said...

Can't use "Bronze Age", the Quran is way too late.

I have a feeling he won't be all that different from the Christian deity

Possibly because he is exactly the same diety in all important respects. (The Old/New Testament version, not the Gnostic version).