Morning roundup — and Open Thread

My very strong sense is that the shutdown will reveal how much of our federal government is inessential.  I’m not the only one who feels this way.  And no wonder, because the shutdown reveals waste everywhere.  This shouldn’t be a surprise.  Monopolies are invariably poorly managed and unchecked bureaucracies invariably grow.

PowerLine takes on a disgusting piece of revisionist history.  (I’d seen the underlying grotesque revisionism myself, but hadn’t had the time to challenge it.)

When it comes to Obamacare, is the government shutdown both a means and an end?  Buzzfeed thinks that the shutdown on its own, without any specific defunding measures, will damage Obamacare quite badly.  Considering Obamacare’s disastrous first few hours, Buzzfeed may be right.

Even in my most atheist days, I recognized that religion, whether or not there really was a God, is a moral necessity.  Dennis Prager’s challenge to Richard Dawkins hones in on that fact.

Britain’s NHS continues to show us just  how coercive government-run healthcare is.  I’m no fan of smoking, but this type of bullying is sickening.

As we already saw in the Balkans, when it comes to Islam, the call to jihad always trumps all other loyalties.

Obama’s foreign policy in a nutshell — sort of.  I actually think there’s a malevolent consistency running through it, which sees Obama’s hierarchy:  Most favored are Muslim tyrannies; second place to Muslim nations; third place to Leftist tyrannies; fourth place to socialist nations; fifth place to free countries and traditional American allies.

Did I mention bullying somewhere above?  Why, yes I did, in connection with Britain’s NHS.  The fact is, though, that leftists are always bullies, as Christian troops in the American military are discovering to their cost.  The First Amendment promises religious freedom.  America hasn’t always been true to that, as with her attack on Mormon polygamy.  (I hold no brief for polygamy, but it was a core Mormon doctrine.)  There are certainly practices one can quarrel with.  For example, I don’t think the First Amendment should extend to human sacrifice.  To the extent, though, that heterosexual marriage is one of the core doctrinal concepts in all of the world’s religions, and that it reflects biological and reproductive reality, the bullying and coercion from the left is unconscionable.

Arthur Laffer (the repeatedly proven Laffer Curve) and Stephen Moore write Obamanomic’s epitaph.  (And one should add that Obamanomics, which is simply Marxist economics has already been repeatedly proven . . . as a failure.)

This is an open thread, so please add anything you’ve found that’s interesting.

God’s Chosen People

Michaelangelo hands of God and Adam

There’s a guy where I exercise who’s nice, but I’ve never really warmed up to him.  He’s not part of the ownership or the management team, so it’s never really mattered to me what I think of him.  Last week, though, I discovered that my subconscious might have been sending me messages when I couldn’t make myself like him.  After a tirade against capitalism, for ObamaCare, and in favor of restrictions on all things that could affect Global Warming (yes, let’s get rid of the sun!), he said, “And another thing….”  He then started to inform me how pernicious the message is that the Jews are “God’s chosen people.”

My exercise place is wonderful, so I wasn’t about to upset the nice dynamic there by getting into a debate with a hard-core Leftist.  Those debates usually end badly:  the Leftist doesn’t change his mind, while any people in the vicinity who aren’t hard-core but are still Left (this is Marin after all), get very upset and start thinking with their navels, not their brains.  The best way for me to handle situations like this is to leave, think my arguments through, and then have those arguments ready for the inevitable round two.  This blog is where I think my arguments through. . . .

Apropos his anger that Jews think they’re special (along the lines of “Who are they to claim they’re God’s chosen people?”), it occurred to me that both the Left and antisemites are ferociously ignorant about their Old Testament.  Here is what the Bible tells (and all of you, who are more Bible literate than I, please correct me when I’m wrong):

Before he formed the covenant with the Jewish God, Abraham was polytheistic.  Ur, his original homeland, was certainly polytheistic.  God did not originally appear as a monotheistic God.  Instead, he just appeared as a divine being who selected Abraham (or, as he was initially, Abram).  If Abraham joined in a covenant with God, aligning his family with God, and circumcising all males as a sign of that covenant, God would treat Abraham and his descendents well.  Provided that all of them, through the centuries, abided by the covenant (and circumcision is a harsh demand) they would have land and good fortune.

The Bible acknowledges more than once that there are other gods swirling around in the ancient world.  For example, when Jacob and Rachel flee her father, Laban, Rachel takes her father’s “Household Gods.”  Significantly, in the Ten Commandments, God himself acknowledges other Gods.  It’s just that, as to the Jews, if they wish to keep the covenant, he must be the only God they claim and worship:

“Thou shalt have no other gods before me.”

Those words make sense only if there was competition. Otherwise, God would have said, “There are no other Gods, but for me.”

While God promised much to the children of Abraham, he also placed heavy burdens upon them in addition to circumcision.  In a time when people were comforted by a panoply of gods, all of whom were physically present and whose favors could be bought with human or animal sacrifices, the Jews had just one abstract God in whom they had to believe, regardless of his invisible nature.

During the Greek occupation in Palestine, the Jews could not partake of the physical libertinism that characterized the Greeks.  Jews could not hold on to slaves for more than seven years, and had to treat their slaves humanely, which placed them at an economic disadvantage compared to others in the ancient world.  They were prohibited from eating all kinds of foods, which may have conferred some health benefits on them (e.g., no trichinosis), but which also limited their ability to thrive.

And so it goes, rule after rule that gave the Jews a spiritual advantage, but that limited their options in the ancient world.  In exchange, absent periodic miracles, such as the exodus from Egypt, being God’s chosen people wasn’t so great:  they were isolated and often at war with the world around them, their lives were constrained by God’s stringent rules, and God was big on punishing individuals or whole groups for any failure properly to abide by His rules.

The end result was that, in the ancient world, Jews were considered everything from fellow imperialists, to slaves, to an occupied people.  The one thing that they weren’t considered to be, though, was arrogant and special.  Indeed, in the ancient world, they were considered foolish for hewing to one invisible God rather than taking advantage of the panoply of gods then benefiting everyone else.

What changed was Christianity, which looked at the Jewish God and the whole notion of monotheism and concluded that it was a good idea.  The early Christians were Jews and, when they split from Jews who didn’t recognize Christ’s divinity, they still considered themselves God’s Chosen People — only they were even more chosen because they had taken Christ as their savior.  Suddenly, the Jews’ claim to be God’s Chosen People seemed (a) wrong and (b) arrogant, considering that both Jews and Christians were claiming the same God as their own.

All of which is to say that the Leftist at the dojo was wrong when he sought to insult Jews because they somehow think they’re “special.”  That’s not the issue at all.  Jews have simply chosen, for thousands of years, to abide by a very challenging covenant that Abraham made with a God who came to Abraham and said, “If you pick me, and you play by my rules, we’ll be a team forever.”  In the beginning, everybody thought Abraham made a bad deal by letting himself and his descendents get tagged by this jealous God.  It was only with the passing of time that others began to think that they’d like to be tagged too.

Certainly now, Jews do not display religious arrogance.  They do not demand, either with words or swords, that others worship their God; and they do not enslave or tax or otherwise discriminate against those who don’t.  Yes, amongst themselves they think they’re doing the right thing, but so does every group, whether religious or otherwise.  Why bother to be a group if you don’t have special bonds that distinguish you from others?  But there’s a profound difference between thinking “Yup, I’m engaging in correct religious behavior,” and thinking “You all are evil and doomed.  You deserve to die and then go to Hell.  And while you’re on this earth, I have the right to make it a Hell on earth for you.”  Now that’s arrogant.

Countering the atheist who believes that human free will and a divine being cannot exist in the same intellectual universe

When I was young, I was an atheist, in that I didn’t believe in anything at all.  As I’ve grown older, however, I find that I cannot sustain a belief in nothing.  Interestingly, my belief that there is some intelligent or design force out there that is infinitely greater than we are marches hand-in-hand with my belief in evolution and the Big Bang theory.  I don’t doubt the verity of those two theories.  I do believe, however, that they do not end the discussion of our and the Earth’s origins.  Instead, they just begin it.

Hubble image of a dying star in the Eskimo Nebula

The real sticking point for me is the Big Bang.  Perhaps it’s because I have a simple mind, but I cannot believe that everything came from nothing.  My understanding of the world tells me that there must have been something before the Big Bang.  When I say this to people who are committed to science in lieu of (instead of in addition to) religion, they tell me that “There was probably another universe that collapsed and then, when it compressed itself completely into impossible density, it exploded in the Big Bang.”

Okay.  Fine.  I’ll buy that collapsed universe, unsustainable density, big explosion theory you’re selling.  But tell me this:  where did the prior universe come from?  It seems to me that we can play this “universe to Big Bang to universe to Big Bang” game forever, but that playing the game still doesn’t answer the question about where it all began.

For me, the “where it all began” leads to a something that must be infinitely greater and bigger than all the universes put together, or a single universe that keeps collapsing and being reborn.  And of course, once you start answering the origin question by positing “an intelligent being,” suddenly you’re a theist.  And once you’re a theist you automatically start trying to define for yourself your vision of this divine being.

I certainly don’t believe that there is a divine being who monitors our every move and controls our destiny right down to the last blink and handshake.  Indeed, I’ve never even been able to believe in the anthropogenic God whom Michelangelo painted in the Sistine Chapel or whom William Blake imagined:

Face of God Sistine Chapel

William Blake's Creator

Nor have I been able to believe in the invisible God whose voice spoke to Abraham, Moses, and others in the Bible:

Moses and the burning bush

What do I believe then?  Well, I don’t actually envision a God.  Instead, I see his/its/her acts.  They are creative acts:  the universe, the template (although not the final plan) for all life, and the breath or divine spark that animates us and makes us greater than the water and chemicals that can be distilled from our bodies.

William Blake's soul hovering over body

I am absolutely certain that each of us is truly greater than the sum of his (or her) chemical parts.  I knew this when my Dad died and his essence vanished, leaving only his body behind.  I couldn’t then and can’t now accept that the intangibles that made up Daddy vanished into nothingness.  To the extent that they were intangible — his wit, his intelligence, his charm, his temper — I felt then, and believe now, that they morphed into a different type of “intangibleness” (for want of a better word).  Things don’t vanish.  They decay or change.  The body decays; the spirit changes.

My Divinity, to the extent I assign attributes to this Divinity, is the clockmaker so many thinkers envisioned during the Enlightenment.  My Divinity got things started, inserted free will (including the freedom to engage in good acts or bad) and then stepped away.  Maybe we are an experiment, or a play thing, or an art work, or part of a much greater purpose that we are incapable of seeing or understanding.  Our inability to comprehend the purpose behind our existence doesn’t negate that purpose.  And to the extent that I am vaguely able to glimpse something greater than myself, I have elevated myself above the cow in the field or even my sweet dog sleeping comfortably on her bed as I type.  These animals exist, but I, imbued with that Divine spark, think.

As is so often the case with my long ruminations, I’m leading up to a take-down of a rather primitive atheist article I found in the New York Times.  The writer, Susan Jacoby, dismisses a God that micromanages life on earth and, even worse, a God that allows evil.  From that dismissal, Jacoby automatically assumes that only the opposite can be true — namely, that there is no God.

This line of thought, which is too simplistic even to be a proper syllogism, is silly.  As I’ve stated above, it is perfectly possible to believe that we exist for a reason — and that good and evil are an integral part of that existence — and, further, to believe that a Being greater than ourselves started our existence.

Jacoby next contends that her limited, binary view, provides comfort to the bereaved.  You see, in the face of evil, any evil, Believers can only conclude that God has abandoned or punished them, both of which are deeply depressing thoughts.  However, if one shakes off the shackles of faith, one can just believe that Bad Things Happen — although why random evil is supposed to be comforting, I don’t really understand.  Here’s Jacoby’s ultimate point, in her own words:

It is a positive blessing, not a negation of belief, to be free of what is known as the theodicy problem. Human “free will” is Western monotheism’s answer to the question of why God does not use his power to prevent the slaughter of innocents, and many people throughout history (some murdered as heretics) have not been able to let God off the hook in that fashion.

The atheist is free to concentrate on the fate of this world — whether that means visiting a friend in a hospital or advocating for tougher gun control laws — without trying to square things with an unseen overlord in the next. Atheists do not want to deny religious believers the comfort of their faith. We do want our fellow citizens to respect our deeply held conviction that the absence of an afterlife lends a greater, not a lesser, moral importance to our actions on earth.

[snip]

Today’s secularists must do more than mount defensive campaigns proclaiming that we can be “good without God.” Atheists must stand up instead of calling themselves freethinkers, agnostics, secular humanists or “spiritual, but not religious.” The last phrase, translated from the psychobabble, can mean just about anything — that the speaker is an atheist who fears social disapproval or a fence-sitter who wants the theoretical benefits of faith, including hope of eternal life, without the obligations of actually practicing a religion. Atheists may also be secular humanists and freethinkers — I answer to all three — but avoidance of identification with atheism confines us to a closet that encourages us to fade or be pushed into the background when tragedy strikes.

We must speak up as atheists in order to take responsibility for whatever it is humans are responsible for — including violence in our streets and schools. We need to demonstrate that atheism is rooted in empathy as well as intellect. And although atheism is not a religion, we need community-based outreach programs so that our activists will be as recognizable to their neighbors as the clergy.

As I understand it, Jacoby’s thesis is, essentially, that atheists must band together to deny God and then to go on to the streets to fight crime.  I can just see their superhero now:

Atheist crime fighter

I applaud anyone who wants to make the world a better place, no matter what motivates them.  I do, however, reserve greater applause for those who do so through conservative principles such as individual responsibility, the free market, and traditional morality, since I think they’ll be more effective in achieving their goals.  I also fear those navel-gazers who, abandoning traditional religious principles, start thinking that the world would be a better place if we got rid of Jews or Blacks or Asians or anyone interfering with the navel-gazer’s world view.

What I don’t applaud is someone whose thinking is so blinkered that she cannot envision the possibility that a Divine Creator, in addition to giving us life (or at least getting the ball rolling on life), also endowed us with free will. I’ll admit that free will doesn’t automatically mean there is a God.  Contrary to Jacoby’s limited worldview, though, free will’s existence doesn’t automatically negate a divine being’s existence.

I guess my bottom line is that I’m always suspicious when people engage in this type of simplistic binary thinking. My feeling is that, if they’re that crude and unsophisticated about big issues, it’s very likely that their thinking about the smaller ones that affect our daily lives will be equally limited and defective.

The Episcopalian Church officially concedes that God makes mistakes

My (perhaps simplistic) sense of post-Pagan monotheism, whether Jewish, Christian, or Muslim, is that God is all-powerful and all-knowing.  He is bigger than mere humans can comprehend and He works in ways too mysterious for human comprehension.  To the extent things are incomprehensible — whether evil, or deviations from the norm, or anything else that falls outside of perfect morality or physical perfection — those failures are either Satan’s work, man’s failings, or mysteries known only to God and beyond man’s limited understanding.

The Episcopalian Church, however, or at least a significant number of Church leaders, has added a new reason for deviations from the norm:  God screwed up.  Yup, it turns out God is fallible, which makes it a little unclear why we should bother believing in Him or following His laws.

On July 9, 2012, the Episcopalian Church officially banned discrimination against transsexuals.  I have no quarrel with that decision.  I believe in the marketplace of ideas when it comes to religion, as I do when it comes to almost anything else.  As long as your religion isn’t used to kill me, or doesn’t become a state institution dedicated to marginalizing, prosecuting, torturing, controlling, and/or killing disbelievers, “apostates,” converts, or those who have in some other way allegedly transgressed God’s rules as you understand them, I’m all good with the decisions a religious institution makes for its members.  If the congregants like the decision, they’ll stick with the institution and the institution might even add new members; if not, well, although God doesn’t have to compete in the marketplace of ideas, His institutions do and they may have to pay the price for doctrinal decisions that don’t work well in the religious marketplace.

So, as I said, if the Episcopalian Church wants to open its arms to transsexuals, that’s fine.  What makes the decision to do so funny is that, as one of those who opposed the proposal pointed out, those advancing this successful viewpoint about gender identity issues were explicitly arguing that God erred:

The Rev. Canon James Lewis, Deputy from South Carolina, said that while “gender identity and expression” may have meaning for the proposers, “to be honest I would be hard pressed to explain the boundary between identity and expression.”

“No explanation of these terms or a theological explanation has been offered,” he said, adding that the arguments put forward by supporters were incoherent and contradictory.  Canon Lewis said that the arguments put forward for the full inclusion of gays and lesbians in the life of the church was that as God had made them that way, and that God did not make mistakes, so the church should not exclude them.

However, the argument put forward by the supporters of the transgendered resolution said in effect that God had made a mistake when he made transgendered people, who by seeking surgery or other means to change their gender were correcting God’s error.

It seems to me that an official resolution that is predicated on God messing up sort of negates the whole God thing.  It’s one thing to revisit what He’s said and reinterpret it in different ways (making the Bible the religious equivalent of a Living Constitution), but doesn’t it take things to a whole new level to go out to ones congregants and say that God is as fallible as anybody else, and that it’s up to the Church to take proactive steps to shield individuals from the consequences of God’s errors?

You, my dear readers, are much more sophisticated and knowledgeable about theological matters than I am.  Am I missing something here?  Misinterpreting?  Misunderstanding?  Letting my inclination to snark get ahead of my textual reading and fairness?  Please weigh in.

Arbitrary and capricious gods, from ancient times to modern

Today at lunch, Don Quixote and I ended up talking about predestination and free will.  Along the way we touched upon whether prayers are necessary (if God is omniscient, doesn’t he already know what we want?) and funerals (definitely for the living, although one doesn’t want to disrespect the dead).  We also talked about the Christian concept of Grace, and the Puritan ethos of living a “holier than thou” lifestyle so as to make it clear to the neighbors that one had indeed embraced Christ and, presumably, been embraced right back.  (I know that’s a bit facetious and facile, but I’m assuming you all are reasonably familiar with the Puritan’s religious doctrine, religious practices, and lifestyles.)

We eventually ended up talking about the fact that God’s enormity makes him unknowable — yet so many are nevertheless certain that they can speak for God, predict his actions, and know his desires.  In that context, a little paradox flashed into my brain.  Pagan gods, rather consistently, are very human, and usually not in a very nice way.  If you cast your mind over the Greek and Roman panoply, you’ll see that the gods were greedy, lustful, vengeful, jealous, mischievous, vindictive, and impulsive.  And always, these characteristics showed themselves randomly.  The one consistent thing about the pagan gods was that they were unpredictable, arbitrary, and capricious.  For all that they mimicked human behaviors, they were impossible to understand.  One could only try to avoid and placate them.  For that reason, just like the children of abusive parents, pagan worshippers weren’t motivated by morality.  Rather, their goal, always, was to avoid abuse, no matter what it took.

The Jewish God was a different thing altogether.  Although abstract and invisible (no beautiful Aphrodite, thunderbolt-toting Zeus, or chariot-driving Apollo), the Jewish God did something unthinkable in the pagan world:  he entered into a fixed contract with his Chosen People.  He imposed an obligation upon himself to make these people his own and, in return, he imposed upon them a few specific, overarching moral rules (the commandments) and a raft of behavioral rules.  He never promised that his behavior would be comprehensible, but he make it clear that, if the Jews followed the rules, they would be his Chosen People and would not be at fault for the unknowable events that might affect their lives.

The irony, of course, is that humans, being human, haven’t been able to resist analyzing these practical and ethical obligations in an effort to reach into God’s mind and personality.  “If he tells us to do X, that must mean that he is (or wants) Y.”  The pagans didn’t bother to try to figure their gods out.  Doing so was like trying to herd cats or collect soap bubbles.  The Judeo-Christian God, though, by presenting humans with a rational template of behavior, gave the illusion that he is knowable.

As it happens, I don’t believe God can be knowable.  All we can do if we’re religious is follow the rules (whether Jewish or Christian), and take comfort from the fact that we’re holding up our side of the covenant.

Incidentally, because I can’t resist a bit of punditry myself, would it be too obvious if I suggested here that modern pagans, who rejoice in the “Progressive Environmentalist” label, engage in behaviors very similar to that practiced by the Greeks and Romans, in thrall to their own unpredictable earth goddess?  Because the earth they worship imposes no fixed moral standards or behavioral codes on them, they constantly take her temperature, trying to figure out if she’s running too hot or too cold.  And if the results of these investigations frighten them, they desperately try to placate her.

The human sacrifices the new pagans make aren’t as immediate as they once were — no people lobbed into swamps, buried in pits, tossed in volcanoes, or creatively eviscerated — but they’re just as real.  Thanks to the new pagans’ decision to abandon the petroleum products that have served us so long and so well, and their desperate move to turn crops into energy, rather than food, they’ve created starvation and unrest throughout the world.  (It’s been a while, but it’s worth remembering that Egypt was ripe for unrest because of skyrocketing food prices caused, in part, by the fact that food crops have been diverted to ethanol.)  If the immolation of large parts of the Middle East doesn’t count as a sizable human sacrifice to the unreliable, arbitrary and capricious Gaia, I don’t know what does.

 

One Old Testament — Two Interpretations

It’s always interesting to hear my husband, a militant atheist, and me, a respectful agnostic/atheist, talk about the Bible to the kids.  Today, my husband tackled the story of the sacrifice of Isaac.  He told the kids that the whole point of the story is to remind religious people that they have to be blindly obedient to their God, no matter how evil or wrong his commands are.  I told the kids that it’s a stunningly important story, since it marked the beginning of the end of human sacrifice.

My husband has a different view of the story of Exodus too.  He refuses to celebrate Passover, because he says it commemorates the genocide of the Egyptians.  While it is certainly troubling that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart to the point where the Egyptian First Born had to die (a neat parallelism, of course, to Pharaoh’s decision to kill the Jewish First Born), the fact is that Jews, for thousands of years, have celebrated Passover as a story of freedom — it’s the world’s first recorded slave revolt.  As celebrated, it isn’t a blood-thirsty tale of murder but is, instead, a story about Mose’s personal redemption, and about individual dignity and liberty.  It’s also a story about overarching human emotions:  self-sacrifice, greed, fear, etc.  Or, I guess, if you want to see it that way, it’s a story about genocide.

There are many troubling stories in the Bible, whether Dinah’s brothers slaughtering a whole town, Lot offering to throw his daughters to a rape-made crowd, or even the story of the circumcision of Moses’ son.  What’s striking about the Judeo-Christian tradition is that these religions have looked at these stories, some of which reach far back in pre-history, and have rejected their randomness and violence.  In the Judeo-Christian tradition, we tell these stories, but we keep our life lessons focused on justice and morality.  Just as it’s troubling that modern Muslims take literally Mohamed’s most violent prejudices and prescriptions, so too is it sad that atheists look at the Bible and see only a book of evil.

God is weak — or, should I say, Muslims worry about Allah’s strength

Longtime readers know that one of my favorite book series is C.S. Lewis’ Narnia series. In the Narnia series, my favorite book has come to be The Last Battle — which is the Biblical end of the world, Narnia style. Within that book, my favorite scenes take place after the Apocalypse, when the saved are in the Narnia version of Heaven.

When the heroes and heroines of past books arrive in their Heaven, they find there a Calormene. Caloremenes are Narnian’s arch enemies (and, interesting, given that the book was written in the 1950s, are clearly modeled on Muslims out of the Arabian nights). They reject Aslan (the Jesus figure) and instead worship Tash, an evil figure who is clearly meant to be the equivalent of Satan.

The Calormene’s presence in Heaven is, therefore, unexpected. It turns out, however, that the Calormene is an exceptionally honorable character who believes in Tash because he was raised to, but whose values are clearly in line with Aslan’s. Accordingly, when he arrives in Heaven, Aslan welcomes him, assuring him that all of his good acts by-passed Tash and were accorded directly to Aslan — hence his place in Heaven.

Lewis’ point, of course, is that God focuses on man’s acts and is readily able to separate the wheat from the chaff. True religions encourage good behavior, but it is up to God in the afterlife to determine whether any individual actually “got it right” in terms of moral choices. God also has sufficient self-assurance to accept that some might not appear to accord him the proper respect on earth, because God looks at deep acts and beliefs, not superficial behaviors.

This is a long warm up for a story out of Saudi Arabia, in which the Saudi religious courts have once again taken it upon themselves, in the most brutal fashion, to do the sorting on God’s behalf (h/t LGF):

A Saudi Arabian court on Thursday ratified the conviction of Turkish barber Sabri Bogday, who was sentenced to beheading in Saudi Arabia on charges of “cursing the name of God.”

Bogday has been in jail for 13 months in Saudi Arabia after a quarrel with a neighbor near his barber shop. Bogday was accused of cursing the name of God.

Every time I read articles such as this one, I can’t help but think that Muslims hold their God in very low esteem. If there is an Allah, I don’t intend this to be an insult of what Allah actually is. Instead, I’m just looking at human activities relative to their belief in Allah’s existence.

Amongst serious Islamists, while they pay lip service to Allah’s overwhelming power and beneficence, their behavior speaks of a divine being that has a very low insult threshold (they treat Allah as very insecure), and who demands that man enact the most heinous punishments on other men in this life (imply that, in their eyes, Allah is pretty powerless in the next life, since he must rely on man to do the sorting in this one). This kind of radical Islamic behavior really seems inconsistent with an omniscient, powerful God. Instead, Islamists, by their acts, paint Allah as a hypersensitive, low-intellect wimp — which must be, I think, the most heinous act of disrespect it’s possible to render unto God.