Destruction of Palmyra’s Temple of Baal (Bel)

I was in Palmyra 11 years ago. It was one of those ancient places in Syria that projected the influence and power of Rome. This is the Temple of Baal (or Bel). It no longer exists. The barbarity and inhumanity of the Islamic State, in its self-congratulatory frenzy of wiping out monuments and people not representing the glory of Islam, destroyed much of Palmyra last year.

Temple of Baal

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Old Testament and New Testament history

I’d previously posted a link to the wonderful online video lectures from Yale University, in particular the course on “Introduction to the Old Testament” by Christine Hayes. I’m now about half-way through the course on “New Testament History and Literature” by Dale B. Martin. This makes a good companion to the Christine Hayes videos. I’ve posted both videos below for your convenience :)

Do note that a significant time-commitment is required to go through all these videos, but the rewards are many. Go for it!

Introduction to the Old Testament With Christine Hayes:

New Testament History and Literature:

The origin and development of the Old Testament

I love how certain universities make available a number of free resources such as lectures. One resource, in particular, that I’ve really enjoyed has been Yale University’s “Introduction to the Old Testament” by Christine Hayes. There are many hours of video material from this introductory course, and I would recommend that these are augmented through further personal research.

The course description:

This course examines the Old Testament (Hebrew Bible) as an expression of the religious life and thought of ancient Israel, and a foundational document of Western civilization. A wide range of methodologies, including source criticism and the historical-critical school, tradition criticism, redaction criticism, and literary and canonical approaches are applied to the study and interpretation of the Bible. Special emphasis is placed on the Bible against the backdrop of its historical and cultural setting in the Ancient Near East.

Fascinating stuff!

According to Wikipedia:

Christine Hayes is the Robert F. and Patricia Ross Weis Professor of Religious Studies at Yale University, Chair of the Department of Religious Studies, and one of the foremost American academics focusing on talmudic-midrashic studies and Classical Judaica. She is also a specialist in the History and Literature of Judaism in Late Antiquity. Before her appointment at Yale, she served as the Assistant Professor of Hebrew Studies, Department of Near Eastern Studies, at Princeton University from 1993 to 1996. She has published several books and numerous articles in American and international academic journals, and has received academic accolades. Her class on the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) was selected for the pilot program of “Yale University Open Courses,”  and has subsequently been one of the most watched online courses about Classical Judaica.

Richard Dawkins attacked from all sides

There are too many people who deliberately misrepresent Dawkins, be they right wing, left or anything in between. Or if it’s not deliberate then at least indicators of biases, laziness and shallow depth of intellect. Nick Cohen as a good piece in The Spectator regarding these folks: 

To me, reason and logic are clear, and for anyone to disregard these, despite gentle persuasion, is enough for me to lose patience with them. They are beyond reason.

Jeff Coyne has a pretty good follow-up to Cohen’s article:

Article by Kulvinder Singh Matharu – 2013

An Atheist Muslim’s Perspective on the ‘Root Causes’ of Islamist Jihadism and the Politics of Islamophobia

This is a link to a blog article from Ali A. Rizvi, an ex-Muslim, who clearly explains the fundamental weaknesses of Islam, and highlights the misinterpretation, perhaps misdirection, by those that defend Islam.

This quote from the article is important as it demonstrates the misnomer that is “the religion of peace”:

I also understand that extremism in any ideology isn’t a distortion of that ideology. It is an informed, steadfast adherence to its fundamentals, hence the term “fundamentalism.” When you think of a left-wing extremist, do you think of a greedy capitalist? Would you imagine a right-wing extremist to be dedicated to government-funded social welfare programs? The “extremists” and strict followers of the Jain faith, which values the life of every being, including insects, don’t kill more than their average co-religionists. Instead, they avoid eating foods stored overnight so as not to kill even the microorganisms that may have collected in the meantime. In a true religion of peace, the “extremists” would be nonviolent pacifists to an extreme (and perhaps annoying) degree, not the opposite.

Kulvinder Matharu - coprightExposing the adherents of Islam to critical thinking, to reasoned thinking, to rationality, will help to expose the evils, brutality and irrationality inherent in Islam. It isn’t going to be easy as most who defend or apologise for Islam are probably not aware of Islam’s DNA and may not be interested in exploring further after having bought into the “religion of peace” lie.

Article by Kulvinder Singh Matharu – 2013

Is Nick Clegg a hypocrite, a liar, and a coward?

The BBC reports that Nick Clegg, an atheist, raises his children as Catholics:

At face value, this means that Clegg is knowingly lying to his children. Instead, Clegg should be raising his children to think critically so that his children can make up their own minds and be armed to tackle the nonsense in this world.

Let’s be clear about this; I’m not condemning Clegg for sending his children to a Catholic school. I’m condemning him for raising his children as Catholics when he, himself, is a declared atheist. In particular, if the BBC report is true, what does this tell you of Clegg? That he is a hypocrite, a liar, and a coward, running away from making the hard choices.

Having just checked more online, it appears that Clegg’s hypocrisy and dishonesty on this subject is common knowledge. Not sure how I missed it all before. Perhaps Clegg misspoke or was misinterpreted about raising his children as Catholics?

Regardless, the injustices, brutality and immorality of religion are well known; Christianity/Catholicism, along with Islam, being particularly infamous:

Perhaps by exposure to these evils Clegg’s children will realise the true nature of religion. After all, his children will learn that the bible calls their father a liar, an antichrist, and that he will be damned to hell forever.

Article by Kulvinder Singh Matharu – 2013