In a world dominated by magical thinking, superstition and misinformation, give yourself the benefit of doubt. This is one skeptic's view of the Universe.
"Tell people there’s an invisible man in the sky who created the universe, and the vast majority believe you. Tell them the paint is wet, and they have to touch it to be sure."
“If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed”.
“Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep thoughts can be winnowed from deep nonsense.”
The person who is certain, and who claims divine warrant for his certainty, belongs now to the infancy of our species. It may be a long farewell, but it has begun and, like all farewells, should not be protracted.
BEIRUT: Islamist militiamen in Syria’s Hama province have publicly lashed a man for committing blasphemy when he cursed the electricity situation, pro-opposition websites said Tuesday.
The accused, identified as Mutasim Dahrouj, was removing illegal connections to the electricity grid in the town of Latamneh, Hama, when he uttered a standard curse, which translates literally as “may the religion of electricity be damned” (yilaan din al-kahraba).
The court ordered that he receive 80 lashes, have his head shaved and be imprisoned for three days.
A video on YouTube purports to show the man being punished, and displays copies of the Shariah court paperwork connected to the case. A commentator on YouTube objected to the punishment, noting that “electricity doesn’t have a religion.”
Photographs appearing to show a blindfolded man having his fingers severed by the mechanical amputation device have been published by an official Iranian press agency.
According to the INSA news service, the prisoner used to demonstrate the brutal contraption had been convicted of theft and adultery by a court in Shiraz last Wednesday.
A series of pictures show three masked officials, clad entirely in black, holding the man’s right hand in a vice while one turns a wheel operating the guillotine in the manner of a rotary saw.
In none of the four closely cropped images does the bearded prisoner’s expression register pain, suggesting that he may have been drugged.
Following the public amputation, Ali Alghasi, the Shiraz district’s public prosecutor, announced sentences against criminals are to become increasingly severe.
This warning, issued without explanation, may be an attempt by authorities to deter public protest ahead of June’s general elections.
The Iranian government’s deplorable human rights record has been well documented.
Public execution, including death by stoning, and torture, including flogging and amputation, are routine.
Amnesty International led international outcry over the execution of 21 year-old Ali Naderi earlier this month for the alleged murder of an elderly woman killed during the course of a burglary – a crime he committed when he was 17.
It is illegal under international law to execute anyone for a crime committed as a minor.
Ironically, they still have plenty of crime, demonstrating the ineffectiveness of severe punishment in deterring crime.