Goodbyes are not forever: A Gift for you

I’ve decided to take a break from blogging. I think I’ll start again in December maybe. But i’m not sure. So I wanted to leave you all with something amazing. Something powerful, beautiful, productive and worth your time. so here goes:

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I’d love to hear what you think of it.

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22 thoughts on “Goodbyes are not forever: A Gift for you

  1. Your posts and comments will be missed Moniba.

    I can’t load the video with the lousy internet connection I have.
    Do you have any key words I can use to try to search for a downloadable version of it online?

      • Yep found a copy.

        Took me three hours to download it though (told you I had a lousy internet connection) and now it’s too late to watch it tonight so I’ll have to check it out tomorrow.

        I’ll probably want to say something about it when I’ve watched it so I hope you’ll still be monitoring your comments for a day or so before you go AWOL from the blogosphere.

      • Good. And i’m not gonna go AWOL 😛 I’m just not going to write, but i’m still monitoring and replying to comments. And i’m still reading blogs 😉 Just not gonna write my own.
        So, I look forward to reading what you think of it.

      • I finished watching it only a few minutes before your last comment.

        It works well as a rap and is very moving as an expression of faith but I guess you don’t need me to tell you that a lot of the arguments he puts are theological non sequiturs that have long been discredited either because of their faulty logic or their factual inaccuracy.

        If you want me to detail some examples of what I mean just ask.

        But I guess the main problem I find with it is the confused notion of the relationship between faith and science that it propagates. Although I’m sure it was not the artist’s intention he is actually buying into exactly the same mindset as Richard Dawkins.

        He goes from using the Quran as an authority to attack science on one hand to using science as an authority to support the Quran on the other. I’ve got a bit of a bee in my bonnet about that sort thing, as evidenced by my post Junk science junkies.

        A relative of mine was both a renowned Anglican lay preacher and the winner of the 1904 Nobel prize for physics. During his Nobel acceptance speech he said “In my opinion true Science and true Religion neither are nor could be opposed”.

        That’s because they are different orders of knowledge using different methods to tackle different questions.

        To say that Islam trumps science is just as silly as people like Dawkins saying that science trumps Islam. Or as silly as saying one supports the other. You might as well say ‘The jack of spades beats leg before wicket’.

      • Very interesting, your comment.
        Do tell me about the “theological non sequiturs that have long been discredited either because of their faulty logic or their factual inaccuracy”.
        I looked into Dawkin’s theories and your post, and I agree that sometimes, it really is so that we(the general ‘we’) try to prove Islam through science while at the same time attacking it in a way. But really, look at this without any prejudice at all. What was the artist’s point when he showed all those examples? And how exactly was science attacked?
        It’s not that Islam trumps science or science trumps Islam, rather that Islam really did tell us about all those grand discoveries 1400 years ago. Can you deny that?
        And honestly, in my opinion, everything links to faith.

      • Do tell me about the “theological non sequiturs that have long been discredited either because of their faulty logic or their factual inaccuracy”.

        The most ubiquitous one in the clip is the teleological one (i.e. ‘argument from design’).

        In a nutshell the artist argues that the human body is perfectly designed therefore there must be a perfect designer.

        In the West this argument has been around at least since Plato but is best known from the ‘watchmaker analogy’ posited by William Paley about two centuries ago in which he claims if you find something as well designed as a watch you can be sure there is a watchmaker somewhere. (Hence the recurrent image in the clip of a watch being carefully assembled).

        The first error is that the human body is far from perfectly ‘designed’.

        For a start our eyeballs are inside out. The cells of the retina point backwards with nerves exiting them towards the pupil, joining into the optic nerve which must then exit the eyeball through the centre of the retina, creating big blind spots. Our eyes are far less sensitive than they would be if our own retinal nerves weren’t in the way of our vision and there would be two big black spots in the middle of our field of vision were it not for neurological post processing that edits them out.

        This is because the path of evolution of vertebrate eyes involved a reversal of the eye structure so that the lens – which developed behind the retina – could end up in front. Cephalopods evolved eyes separately to vertebrates and do not have inside out eyes. As a result octopi have more acute vision, can see a wider range of the electromagnetic spectrum and require relatively less brain tissue to process visual images than we do.

        Our appendix is another evolutionary remnant which still has some minor functions but because of it’s susceptibility to infection is more likely to harm than help us over the course of our life.

        Also our embryological development is very inefficient. There are lots of remnants of earlier steps in our evolution which grow at considerable resource cost to the mother only to die off and disappear at later stages of pregnancy. Examples include the tail and the development of fingers and toes. (Fingers do not grow as nubs from the hand of the foetus. What happens is the foetus grows flippers then the tissue between what will eventually become fingers dies away). This means mothers must eat more and carry their babies for longer than they would have to if we were to grow efficiently from a blastocyst directly to a human baby without passing through so many pre-human intermediate forms.

        To me the most convincing demolition of the teleological argument is carried out by David Hume in Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion. It is far too long to detail here but you can get the gist of it from the Wikipedia entries here and here.

        It’s my understanding that Al-Farabi also wrote a powerful refutation of Aristotle’s argument from design but I am ashamed to confess I have never read it.

        The argument is actually self-refuting if you think about it.

        I look at the human body and I think “How perfect – it must be designed”.
        But ‘how perfect’ compared to what?
        Other animals?
        That would suggest other animals aren’t designed.

        OK how about “All life is perfect – it must be designed”?
        Compared to the non-living?
        But didn’t god design that too?

        Alright then, “The whole universe is perfect – it must be designed”.
        Now we’re in real trouble.
        What can we compare it to whereby we can claim it is perfect?
        For all we know there are an infinite number of universes more perfect than ours and we actually live in a rather shabby one full of pain and suffering.

        The whole thing becomes nothing more than a statement of faith.
        It is essentially saying “I think I am designed because I think I am designed therefore I think I have a designer”.

        Another argument the artist makes is that you can’t make something from nothing (“Zero plus zero … cannot possibly give you one”).

        This is a straw man in that cosmologists do not claim the big bang came from nothing but that rather all of the conditions for the universe existed in it’s very first instant, though perhaps not in the four dimensions of space-time with which we are familiar.

        Quantum physicists however do claim that something can come from nothing. They posit that the quantum vacuum is actually full of subatomic particles constantly popping into and out of existence and they have some experimental evidence to support this (I have no way of evaluating how good that evidence is though – that stuff is a bit beyond my BSc level physics).

        But if you can’t get something from nothing his argument has a big problem.
        Where did Allah come from?

        If Allah can be self-creating then why not a universe since it is presumably less complex than a being who could create it?
        If Allah has always been then why could the universe not have always been, perhaps going through infinite cycles of creation and destruction as posited in Hindu cosmology?

        The overarching argument of his thesis is basically in the form of what is known in the West as “Pascal’s Wager”. Again it’s been around in one form or another at least since ancient Greece but is best known for the the formulation given by French genius and polymath Blaise Pascal.

        Basically it goes like this:
        If god doesn’t exist and we believe in him we have wasted part of our lives.
        But if god does exist and we don’t believe in him we have wasted an eternity.
        Therefore a rational person will believe in god because of the relative cost-benefit in choosing an answer – an eternity is worth infinitely more than part of a life.
        And because it’s too late to start believing when you’re dead you’d better start believing now because you might die at any minute.

        But of course you can’t make yourself believe just because it’s a good bet to make. And an omniscient god would be unlikely to be fooled by someone like Protagoras who said you should act as if you believe whether you do or not so as not to offend god if he exists.

        More important is the fact that it’s not really a binary choice of “no god” vs “god” but rather it’s a choice of “no god” vs “which god?” because there are a heck of a lot of people out there claiming there are different kinds of gods and a lot of them say that anyone who believes in gods different to theirs is going to hell.

        Pascal himself understood that problem and he got around it by dismissing all religions other than Catholicism as obviously incorrect. He paid particular attention to ‘proving’ Islam to be false. My understanding is that several Muslim philosophers have also put forward variations of Pascal’s Wager but I’m not sure if they ‘proved’ Christianity is false.

        And of course there’s always the possibility they’re all wrong and that god will not save or damn people based on whether they believe in him but rather whether they took full advantage of the life and universe he provided them to enjoy themselves as much as possible while they could.

        There were a couple more minor points from the clip I had planned to take apart but I see this has become a very long comment and it is getting late so I’ll leave it here.

        I will respond to the rest of you comment when I get the chance – probably tomorrow sometime.

      • And how exactly was science attacked?

        I took his denial of ‘something from nothing’ as an attack on cosmology and his insistence we are not ‘simply natural’ as an attack on evolutionary biology, given the contexts in which he makes them.

        Islam really did tell us about all those grand discoveries 1400 years ago. Can you deny that?

        Umm …

        According to my English language Quran (yeah, I know there’s really no such thing) Sura 23:13 onwards says:

        Now of fine clay We have created man:
        Then We placed him, a moist germ, in a safe abode;
        Then made We the moist germ a clot of blood; then made of the clotted blood a piece of flesh; then made the piece of flesh into bones: and we clothed the bones with flesh: then brought forward man of yet another make – Blessed therefore be Allah, the most excellent of makers

        It’s poetic enough and a bit closer to biological reality than the Judeo-Christian version where God makes man entirely out of clay then breathes life into him but it’s not exactly a description that corresponds with current understanding of embryology. Nor is it clear that it even refers to embryological development as the clip suggests. It seems to me to be a description of how the first man was supposedly made, not how subsequent ones develop in the womb.

        Nor would I suggest describing mountains as tent-pegs (Sura 78:7) really constitutes a ‘grand discovery’ about geology or plate tectonics.

        In my Quran Sura 25:53 does not refer to seas at all, but 25:55 says:

        And he it is who hath let loose the two seas; the one sweet, fresh; the other salt, bitter; and hath put an interface between them, a barrier that cannot be passed

        Kinda cryptic that and I don’t pretend to understand it.
        Perhaps you can explain to me how it is a ‘great discovery’.

        Sura 21:34 says:

        And he hath created the night and the day; the sun and the moon; each moving quickly in it’s sphere

        This corresponds to the pre-Copernican model of the universe in which the sun and moon both orbit the earth. I would definitely not call that a great discovery. It’s just a repetition of the incorrect model of the solar system that pretty much everyone believed 1400 years ago. The Bible contains a similar description which is equally wrong.

        I’ve checked several of the other quotes and found them to be similar. Either they don’t say what the clip claims they do or what they do say does not really seem to reflect any particularly advanced knowledge.

        But what if they did?
        What if the Quran was full of facts that were only confirmed by science centuries later.
        Would this prove the Quran was the word of a divine being?

        In the 1970s there was a very popular author by the name of Erich von Daniken who trawled through ancient texts, archeological sites and museums searching for evidence that archaic civilisations possessed advanced knowledge. He found a lot of interesting stuff. As well as the super-advanced stone-masonry and astronomy of the Egyptians and Incas he found that the ancient Greeks used electric batteries, that the inhabitants of Easter Island used statue building and erecting methods that seemed centuries ahead of their civilisation, that the Mayans had superb gem cutting and polishing skills, etc.

        Von Daniken claimed all of this was evidence that space aliens had visited Earth in the past and taught the ancients advanced knowledge and technologies. Doubtless if he had believed there were ‘grand discoveries’ in the Quran he would have claimed Muhammad had been visited by Martians.

        It’s all bunk of course and some of Von Daniken’s ‘discoveries’ turned out to be fraudulent. But a lot of people were taken in.

        I think that’s because modern man is incredibly hubristic about his knowledge. He can’t believe that ancient civilisations might also have had some very clever people with a scientific turn of mind but that some of their knowledge was lost when their civilisation collapsed.

        If the Quran really contains advanced discoveries I think there would be a very obvious reason for it.
        Because people 1400 years ago weren’t stupid.
        And because the Middle East was a major intersection of trade routes from places as diverse as Greece, Egypt, India, Rome and even China it is quite likely that some pretty clever ideas would have found their way there.

        In fact over 2200 years ago Aristarchus of Samos had already worked out the sun was the centre of the solar system, that the earth and planets orbited around it while the moon orbited the earth and that the stars were an incredibly long distance away and of the same nature as the sun. It’s a shame the Quran opted for the geocentric model of Aristotle instead of the more correct heliocentric one of Aristarchus. There would almost certainly have been middle eastern scholars 1400 years ago who knew of Aristarchus’ work because it had been reproduced by Archimedes.

        Several medieval Muslim astronomers used exactly the same mathematical models as Copernicus to describe the movement of heavenly bodies but refused to draw the obvious conclusion that the earth orbited the sun because the Quran (and Aristotle) said the opposite. So you could make a strong argument that Sura 21:34 not only set back astronomy by centuries, it also denied Islamic scientists a discovery that would be made much later by a Christian instead.

        And honestly, in my opinion, everything links to faith.

        Agree absolutely.

        All fields of inquiry rest on fundamental tenets that must be taken on faith.

        One scientific tenet is that there is an objectively real material universe that can be measured and described. Hindu advaitists would disagree.

        One theological tenet is that there is some sort of meaning or purpose to existence. Followers of scientism like Dawkins would disagree.

        Descartes’ minimalist tenet was “I think”. Buddhists would disagree.

        When you start from different tenets you end up with different systems of knowledge asking different questions about different things in different ways. Sometimes bringing those different systems together can provide fruitful synthesis but in my opinion mostly what you get is mutual incomprehension, hostility and a whole load of very stupid conclusions.

        I think Dawkins does that when he tries to make theology part of science and I think a lot of religious people do the same when they try to make science part of theology.

      • Hello.. I’m very sorry I took so long to reply.
        See, I don’t have enough knowledge to contradict what you’ve said, and that is very shameful indeed. But, I remain confident on my faith, my book and my Prophet SAW.
        I think… Faith is the one thing we have that we can rely on, and that we shouldn’t have to prove. Or rather, that can’t be judged by the way of science and questioning. If we have it, we’re very thankful and we try our best to keep it from waning. If we don’t have it, well then we just don’t. I can’t say much for that.

      • Oops. Made my last comment before reading this one.
        Please disregard it.

        But, I remain confident on my faith, my book and my Prophet SAW.
        I think… Faith is the one thing we have that we can rely on, and that we shouldn’t have to prove.

        And that’s what really counts IMHO.

        To me, looking outside your faith for reasons to believe in it is a sign of lack of faith.

        Or rather, that can’t be judged by the way of science and questioning.

        Exactly.
        Nor can science be judged from the perspective of faith.

        If you are looking to science for morality, meaning or purpose you are looking in the wrong place. You might as well ask a shovel or a truck.

        If you are looking to faith for cosmology or biology you are also in the wrong place.

        If we have it, we’re very thankful and we try our best to keep it from waning. If we don’t have it, well then we just don’t. I can’t say much for that.

        I’m not really a person of faith at all but naturally my own belief systems rest on tenets that I too have taken on faith. I try to skeptically examine those tenets as often as I can but that’s because skepticism is also a point of faith to me.

  2. I’m left speechless and with the tears in my eyes after watching this powerful video and expression of faith. Thank you so so so much for sharing this with us.
    I’m sad though that you are going on hiatus when I’ve just discovered you. I guess I’ve to make do with your older posts in the mean time.

    P.S how can I share it? I mean other than the Re-blog? Please tell me if you don’t mind me sharing this amazing video.

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