Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Is Islam Evil? - Part IV

The website Answering Islam is devoted to promoting Christianity to Muslims by presenting objections to Islam, answering Muslim objections to Christianity, as well as providing a positive case for Christian beliefs:


There are a number of articles on this site (or available through links at the site) that raise the objection that Islam promotes violence and terrorism. I’m examining and evaluating one such article called “Top Ten Reasons Why Islam is Not a Religion of Peace” written by James Arlandson:


In previous posts, I have examined Arlandson’s reason number 10 and reason number 9:

In this post, I will examine reason number 8.
8. Muhammad in his Quran permits husbands to beat their wives.
4:34 Husbands should take full care of their wives, with [the bounties] God has given to some more than others and with what they spend out of their own money. Righteous wives are devout and guard what God would have them guard in the husbands’ absence. If you fear high-handedness from your wives, remind them [of the teaching of God], then ignore them when you go to bed, then hit them. If they obey you, you have no right to act against them. God is most high and great. (Haleem)
Plainly said, Sura 4:34 specifies that husbands may beat their unruly wives if the husbands "fear" highhandedness, quite apart from whether the wives are actually being highhanded. This puts the interpretation of the wives’ behavior squarely in the husbands’ judgment, and this swings the door to abuse wide open. This verse embodies a gigantic cultural and social step backwards and should be rejected by all fair-minded and reasonable people.
Thus, domestic violence sits at the heart of early Islam—in the life of Muhammad and his Quran. Islam is therefore not the religion of peace.
There are other possible translations and interpretations of Surah 4:34, so it is not certain that the Quran teaches that husbands should hit their wives under certain circumstances.

However, let’s suppose, for the sake of argument, that the translation used by Arlandson above is a reasonable translation, and that it is probably the case that this translation accurately reflects the original meaning of this verse from the Quran.

Mr. Arlandson needs to remove the beam from his own eye before attempting to remove the speck from the eye of a Muslim believer, for the Bible that he reads and believes to be the inspired Word of God, is filled with verses that promote sexisim and the use of violence in human relationships. 

Christianity, not Islam, was the dominant religion in the USA when our country was originally founded, and it remains the dominant religion in the USA in the 21st century.  Yet, domestic violence, intimate partner violence, violence against women, and child abuse are serious and widespread problems in the USA in the 21st century, despite over two hundred years of Christianity dominating American culture. 

In the USA:

  • One in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime.
  • An estimated 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner each year.
  • 85% of domestic violence victims are women.
  • One in 6 women have experienced an attempted or completed rape.
  • There are 16,800 homicides annually due to intimate partner violence.
These facts are from the Domestic Violence Fact Sheet from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence: 

Child abuse is also a serious problem in the 21st century.

In the USA:

  • In 2008 there were 3.3 million reports of child abuse or neglect to child protective services agencies.
  • In 2008, Child Protective Services estimates 772,000 incidents of child maltreatment occurred (10.3 per 1,000 or 1 in 100).
  • Another non-CPS study (published 2009) estimated that 1 in 5 children in the USA experience some form of child maltreatment.
  • In 2008, an estimated 1,740 children died as a result of abuse and neglect (80% of those deaths were for children under 4 years old, 10% were children 4-7 years old).
  • About 59% of non-fatal child maltreatment was against children under 4 years old, and 11% was against children from 4-7 years old.
[From the Center for Disease Control publication: "Child Maltreatment - Facts at a Glance":

There are, no doubt, several reasons for these sad facts about the USA, but two factors appear to have obvious significance:

(a)   sexism in American thought and practice
(b)   the favorable attitude of Americans towards the use of violence in human interactions (including adult interactions with children)

Both of these American attitudes find firm ground in the teachings of the Bible, the sacred scripture of the Christian religion.  So, it should not be surprising that in the 21st century we are still struggling with serious and widespread incidents of domestic violence, intimate partner violence, violence against women, and child abuse.

Because there are several passages in the Bible that promote sexism and the use of violence in human interactions, including adult interactions with children, Arlandson’s own belief in the inspiration of the Bible [in Arlandson’s own words]:

embodies a gigantic cultural and social step backwards and should be rejected by all fair-minded and reasonable people.

In other words, if Surah 4:34 gives us a good reason to reject the inspiration of the Quran, then the many passages of the Bible that promote sexism and the use of violence in human relationships gives us a very strong reason to reject Arlandson’s belief that the Bible is the inspired Word of God.

A brief survey of the first six books of the Bible will be adequate to show that the sacred scriptures of the Christian religion promote sexism and a positive attitude towards the use of violence in human interactions.

Sexism and Violence in Genesis

To be continued…

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Is Islam Evil? Part III

Here is Arlandson's Reason #9 why Islam is not a religion of peace:

9. Muhammad commands in his Quran that adulterers and adulteresses should receive a hundred lashes.

Arlandson quotes from the Quran to establish his factual claim about Muhammad:

24:2 Strike the adulteress and the adulterer one hundred times. Do not let compassion for them keep you from carrying out God’s law—if you believe in God and the Last Day—and ensure that a group of believers witnesses the punishment. 

(MAS Abdel Haleem, The Quran, New York: Oxford UP, 2004)

The “supposed historical context” of this instruction from Muhammad is “a raid of a tribe in December 627 or January 628”.

Arlandson insists that Muslim apologists “have to answer why the true God would send down the harsh punishment of lashing in the Quran…” and he concludes that, “cruel violence sits at the heart of early Islam…”.

I agree that this is a harsh punishment for adultery, and I agree that this is an example of cruel violence. Furthermore, given that such a punishment was harsh, cruel, and violent, Arlandson is right to challenge the claim that such a policy was one that “the true God would send down” to us.

Since God is assumed to be a perfectly good person by Christians and Muslims, it is very implausible that God would institute such a harsh and cruel punishment. We should indeed be skeptical about the Muslim belief that these words from the Quran were inspired by God.

However, this legitimate objection that Arlandson raises against Islam, can be raised against Christianity as well. So, before Arlandson and his Evangelical Christian friends begin to pray “Lord, we thank thee that we are not like the cruel and violent Muslims…”, they need to take a good long look in the mirror of history, and then, out of shame and embarrassment, fall silent about point #9.

About a thousand years after Muhammad spoke those “harsh” words of “cruel violence”, a group of devout Christian were forming a new settlement in North America, called the Massachusetts Bay colony. Consider the following inspiring words of one of the leaders of these followers of Christ:

John Winthrop's City upon a Hill, 1630
Now the onely way to avoyde this shipwracke and to provide for our posterity is to followe the Counsell of Micah, to doe Justly, to love mercy, to walke humbly with our God, for this end, wee must be knitt together in this worke as one man, wee must entertaine each other in brotherly Affeccion, wee must be willing to abridge our selves of our superfluities, for the supply of others necessities, wee must uphold a familiar Commerce together in all meekenes, gentlenes, patience and liberallity, wee must delight in eache other, make others Condicions our owne rejoyce together, mourne together, labour, and suffer together, allwayes haveing before our eyes our Commission and Community in the worke, our Community as members of the same body, soe shall wee keepe the unitie of the spirit in the bond of peace, the Lord will be our God and delight to dwell among us, as his owne people and will commaund a blessing upon us in all our wayes, soe that wee shall see much more of his wisdome power goodnes and truthe then formerly wee have beene acquainted with, wee shall finde that the God of Israell is among us, when tenn of us shall be able to resist a thousand of our enemies, when hee shall make us a prayse and glory, that men shall say of succeeding plantacions: the lord make it like that of New England: for wee must Consider that wee shall be as a Citty upon a Hill, the eies of all people are uppon us;
http://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/winthrop.htm [emphasis added]
viewed on 10/21/10

Surely these devout followers of Jesus, who strive “to doe Justly, to love mercy, to walke humbly with our God” and who are committed to “entertaine each other in brotherly Affeccion” and to show great empathy by making “others Condicions our owne” and who wish to set a high standard of behavior that will be an example for the whole world, surely these loving and merciful Christians would not stoop to the harshness and cruel violence of Muhammad by flogging people who have committed adultery with one hundred lashes.

It is true that the Puritans did not use flogging as the punishment for the “crime” of adultery. They assigned a different punishment for that offense:

If any person commiteth Adultery with a married or espoused wife, the Adulterer and Adulteresse shall surely be put to death.
(from the Bay Colony’s 1641 Laws called the “Body of Liberties” source: Capital Punishment in the United States, 1997, edited by Bryan Vila and Cynthia Morris, p. 9 ).

Apparently, a thousand years of Christianity was not enough to drive out this harshness, cruelty, and violence from the devout followers of Jesus, so that they had not yet arrived at the level of restraint shown by Muhammad and his followers back in 628 CE.

Capital punishment in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries was typically (for Britain and New England) in the form of hanging. While hanging in the 20th century can be carried out in a way that is humane and fairly painless, this was not the case at the time the Puritans issued the above law. Prior to the late 1800s, and the arrival of new more humane methods of hanging (which instantly broke the neck of the victim), hanging was a cruel and violent punishment:

When everything was ready, the horses were whipped away leaving the prisoners suspended. They would only have a few inches of drop and thus many of them would writhe in agony for some moments. The hangman, his assistants and sometimes the prisoners' relatives might pull on the prisoners' legs to hasten their end. After half an hour or so, the bodies were cut down and claimed by friends and relatives... (Description of a typical hanging in Britain in the 1700s from "The history of judicial hanging in Britain 1735 - 1964"
http://www.capitalpunishmentuk.org/hanging1.html#after, viewed 10/31/10).

People would sometimes survive hanging, and this meant that people knew from first-hand testimony that hanging could be very painful:

There are several recorded instances of revival in this country during the 17th and 18th centuries. One of the most famous is that of John Smith, hanged at Tyburn on Christmas Eve 1705. Having been turned off the back of the cart, he dangled for 15 minutes until the crowd began to shout "reprieve," whereupon he was cut down and taken to a nearby house where he soon recovered. He was asked what it had felt like to be hanged and this is what he told his rescuers:"When I was turned off I was, for some time, sensible of very great pain occasioned by the weight of my body and felt my spirits in strange commotion, violently pressing upwards. Having forced their way to my head I saw a great blaze or glaring light that seemed to go out of my eyes in a flash and then I lost all sense of pain. After I was cut down, I began to come to myself and the blood and spirits forcing themselves into their former channels put me by a prickling or shooting into such intolerable pain that I could have wished those hanged who had cut me down."

The "intolerable pain" experienced by John Smith during his recovery was not part of his punishment by hanging, but he also reported experiencing "very great pain" during the time that he was hanging.

Not only did these "merciful" Puritans strangle people to death for the crime of adultery, they also assigned the death penality to a number of other crimes less serious than murder (Capital Punishment in the United States, p.8-9):

- for worship of "any other god, but the lord god"
- for being a witch or consulting "with a familiar spirit"
- for blasphemy or for cursing god
- for having sex with an animal
- for a man who has sex with another man (i.e. gay sex)
- for stealing a man (i.e. kidnapping)

While the harshness and cruelty of the Puritans in dishing out the death penalty is remarkable, they were actually more restrained than the Christians that they left back in Britain:

While many of these laws seem particularly harsh, the code might be considered almost lenient, at least in terms of the number of capital crimes, when compared to the capital laws of the Puritan's British homeland. There, about fifty-five crimes--including burglary, robbery, and larceny--were punishable by death at the time (Hook and Kahn 1989:21; Mackey 1976:xii). 
(Capital Punishment in the United States, p.8)

Britain was a Christian nation, not an Islamic nation, and yet we find that the death penalty was rather freely given out in Britain in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries:

At the beginning of the 19th century, there were no fewer than 222 capital crimes, including such terrible offences as impersonating a Chelsea pensioner and damaging London Bridge! One reason why the number of capital crimes was so high was due to the way that particular offences were broken down into specific crimes. For instance stealing in a shop, a dwelling house, a warehouse and a brothel was each a separate offence. Similarly with arson, burning down a house was distinguished from burning a hayrick. It should be noted that in practice, there were only about seventeen general offences for which a death sentence was generally carried out in the 18th and early 19th centuries. These included murder, attempted murder, arson, rape, sodomy, forgery, uttering (passing forged or counterfeit monies or bills) coining, robbery, highway robbery (in many cases, this was the offence of street robbery, that we would now call mugging), housebreaking, robbery in a dwelling house, returning from transportation, cutting and maiming (grievous bodily harm) and horse, cattle or sheep stealing. For all the other capital offences, transportation to America or Australia was generally substituted for execution. 
(from "The history of judicial hanging in Britain 1735 - 1964")

Between England, Wales, and Scotland, there were about 103 civilian executions per year in the 1700s, or over 10,000 executions from 1700-1799 (see "The history of judicial hanging in Britain 1735 - 1964"). Most of the executions were hangings, and given that humane methods of hanging had not yet been developed, most of those hangings were cruel and painful deaths; death by strangulation that took several minutes.

Hanging was not the only cruel punishment given out in the history of Britain. Other punishments imposed by the "merciful" Christians of Britain include: drawn, hanged, and quartered (a person would be hanged, but cut down while still alive, disemboweled, and then chopped into four pieces with an ax), burning at the stake (the preferred capital punishment for women), boiled to death, and such loving non-capital punishments as whipping, amputation, and branding.

The 100-lashes punishment assigned by Muhammad in 628 CE, is less harsh than the death penalty imposed by Puritan Christians in America in 1641, more than a thousand years after Muhammad's statement. Although the Puritans were harsh and cruel in assigning the death penalty to a number of minor offenses, they were more restrained than the cruel and bloody Christians back in Britain, Wales, and Scotland who executed about 10,000 human beings just in the 1700s, mostly by hanging, a cruel and painful way to die, and for a wide variety of minor offenses (not just for murder or treason). So, although Arlandson makes a valid criticism Islam here, the same objection applies tenfold to Christianity.

One might object that we are not comparing apples to apples, because Arlandson's objection points directly at the Quran, whereas my objection points to the behavior and policies of British and American Christians. A better comparison would be to put the Bible up against the Quran, on the question of how to punish adultery and other "crimes" or sins.

But the laws of the Puritans were based directly on the Bible, and their law code cites Biblical passages for each law that imposes death as the penalty. It is in fact the case that the Bible teaches that death is the proper punishment for adultery:

Leviticus 20:10 (New International Version)
10 " 'If a man commits adultery with another man's wife—with the wife of his neighbor—both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death.

Deuteronomy 22:22 (New International Version)
22 If a man is found sleeping with another man's wife, both the man who slept with her and the woman must die. You must purge the evil from Israel.

The Bible also assigns the death penalty for a number of minor offenses:

- kidnapping (Exodus 21:16)
- working on a Saturday (Exodus 31:14-15 and Numbers 15:32-36)
- for blasphemy or cursing god (Leviticus 24:15-16)
- worshipping "any other god" (Deuteronomy 13:6-16 and Deuteronomy 17:2-5)
- cursing your father or mother (Exodus 21:17)
- a man having sex with another man (Leviticus 20:13)

The Puritans were no more harsh or cruel than other Christians. Their law code simply followed the clear teachings of the Bible. It is not just that Christians are more harsh and more cruel than Muslims (concerning adultery). The real problem is that the Bible is more harsh and more cruel than the Quran, at least on this point, the very point that Arlandson is trumpetting as a key reason for believing that “cruel violence sits at the heart of early Islam…”.

It is not just Muslim apologists who “have to answer why the true God would send down the harsh punishment of lashing in the Quran…” . It is also Christian apologists who must answer why the true God would send down the harsh punishment of DEATH for adultery and various other minor offenses. A loving and merciful God would not have commanded such cruelty and violence, so just as this objection gives one good reason to doubt that the Quran is the inspired word of God, so this objection gives us even stronger reasons to doubt that the Bible is the inspired word of God.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Is Islam Evil? Part II

Arlandson’s Top Ten Reasons

The website Answering Islam is devoted to promoting Christianity to Muslims by presenting objections to Islam, answering Muslim objections to Christianity, as well as providing a positive case for Christianity:

There are a number of articles on this site (or available through links at the site) that raise the objection that Islam promotes violence and terrorism. I’m going to examine and evaluate one such article called “Top Ten Reasons Why Islam is Not a Religion of Peace” written by James Arlandson:


James Arlandson has a PhD (in something or other from somewhere or other) and “teaches world religions and introductory philosophy at a college in southern California.” according to a brief note that accompanies the same article on another website:


Let’s consider the first point in Arlandson’s article:

10. Muhammad nicknames his weapons.

Arlandson gives various examples of such nicknamed weapons, including the following:

Muhammad nicknames three swords that he took from the Jewish tribe Qaynuqa after he banished them from Medina in April 624: "Pluck Out," "Very Sharp," and "Death."

This information comes from Tabari (839-923 CE) an early Muslim historian. Since Muhammad died in 723 CE, Tabari was writing nearly 200 years after the death of Muhammad. Tabari obviously did not have any first-hand knowledge of the life of Muhammad, so it would be important to know how he obtained this information about Muhammad. Arlandson says nothing about this, so the above claim about nicknames of three swords does not amount to an established fact.

More importantly, this is clearly a trivial point. Assuming that Muhammad did give nicknames to various weapons, this does not show that he was inclined to use or promote violence. The significant point here is not giving nicknames to weapons, but the fact that Muhammad owned and used weapons in warfare. In other words, Muhammad was a warrior.

American Nicknames for Bombs, Weapons, and War Machines

Arlandson neglected to mention an historically significant use of nicknames for weapons: “Little Boy” and “Fat Man”.

Before Harry Truman was president, he was a warrior. He fought in World War I. Later, when he was Commander-in-Chief of the military forces of the United States, he ordered “Little Boy” to be dropped on Hiroshima, and “Fat Man” to be dropped on Nagasaki.

About 100,000 human beings were killed immediately, and about another 100,000 died within a few months as a result of dropping those two atomic bombs (from burns, radiation sickness, injuries, and other illnesses). Most of the victims were civilians, and included thousands of elderly people, thousands of teenagers, thousands of young children, and thousands of babies.

All of the killing and violence done by Muhammad and his fellow warriors over the entire span of his life could not hold a candle to what Harry Truman, a Christian (Baptist) and a leader of the USA, did to the Japanese, using bombs that were nicknamed “Little Boy” and “Fat Man”. So, if nicknaming three swords makes Muhammad a promoter of violence and terrorism, then Harry Truman was the devil himself.

Another well-known fact that Arlandson neglected to mention is that American military forces use all kinds of slang, acronyms, and nicknames, including nicknames for ammunition, weapons, navy ships, and aircraft used in warfare. So, if we follow Arlandson’s reasoning, we would have to conclude that our American military personnel are all a bunch of terrorists.

Here is a sample of such American military slang and nicknames:

40 mike-mike: 40mm grenade or M203 grenade launcher, often mounted underneath an M-16 or variant
Aluminum Cloud: slang for the F-14 Tomcat
Ass: Armored vehicles. "We'll be driving behind a lot of ass today." E.g: Tanks, Bradleys, etc...
Baby Carriage: Machine gun cart.
Battlewagon: Battleship
Bandoliers: ammo belts for rifles and machine guns
Baseball: M26 Fragmentation Grenade
Beehive round: an explosive artillery shell which delivered thousands of small projectiles, "like nails with fins," instead of shrapnel.
Bird: helicopters or any aircraft
Birdfarm: Aircraft carrier.
Blackbird: Lockheed SR-71 (strategic reconnaissance aircraft).
Blooper: Vietnam Era slang term for the M-79 Grenade Launcher. Suggested by the sound it made upon firing.
Blue on Blue: Fratricide or friendly fire. Named for the color associated with friendly forces during "workups" and exercises.
Boomer: Ballistic Missile Submarine (SSBN)
Bouncing Betty: antipersonnel mine with two charges: the first propels the explosive charge upward, and the other is set to explode at about waist level
Broken Arrow: A missing nuclear weapon
Bronco: twin-engine observation aircraft equipped with rockets and miniguns
BUFF: Big Ugly Flying Fucker - The loving nickname given to the Might B-52 Bomber
Capping: shooting at, capped: shot
Chopper: helicopter
Clacker: a small hand-held firing device for a claymore mine
Cobra: an AH-1G attack helicopter, armed with rockets and machine guns.
COD: Carrier Onboard Delivery - the mighty C-2 Greyhound, which ferries people and supplies to and from the carrier on a regular basis.
Crowd Killer: Derogatory name for the CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter (early in their service many of them came apart killing lots of Marines)
Deagle: Shorthand for the
Magnum Research Desert Eagle .50 caliber handgun.
Dipper: An anti-submarine helo with a variable depth dipping SONAR. See "Dome."
Dragonfly: Alternative, widely-used name for USAF Cessna AT-37 ("Killer Tweet"/"Killer Tweety Bird").
Dragonwagon: M-123 10 Ton Tank Transporter.
Dump of bird turds: A B-52 unloading its bomb load
Fat Albert: C 5 galaxy
Flattop: Aircraft carrier. Also the haircut worn by truly motivated sailors.
Flying Oil Leak: C-121
Foo gas: a mixture of explosives and napalm, usually set in a fifty-gallon drum
Frag: fragmentation grenade
Fragging: the assassination of an officer or N.C.O. by his own troops, usually be a grenade
Friendly fire: accidental attacks on U.S. or allied soldiers by other U.S. or allied soldiers
Gat: Any small arm, referring to gangster slang.
Gator-Freighter: Ship used in amphibious warfare, or generally the transportation of Marines and their equipment. Especially, a carrier-like vessel (amphibious assault ship) whose primary purpose is to put ass in the grass.
Goonie Bird: USAF term for C-47 Skytrain Aircraft. (Military Version of the DC-3)
Grease Gun: .45 Cal Sub-machine gun

Gunship: armed helicopter
Helo: (pronounced. hee-low) (US Navy) term applied to all naval helicopters (from the standard message abbreviation HELO). Calling a naval helicopter anything other than a helo, and especially a "chopper," is grounds for a serious beat-down.
Herky: C-130
Hog: M60 Machinegun
Hoover: slang for the S-3B Viking, mostly due to its unique engine noises
Hot Rod: 4 Man Low Observation Helicopter with Mini-Gun
Huey: Bell Workhorse Helicopter of Viet-Nam
Hummer: slang for the E-2C Hawkeye, mostly for the sound of its props
K-bar: combat knife
Killer Tweet/Killer Tweety Bird: Cessna two-seat AT-37 aircraft.
Lead Sled: F-105 Thunderchief Fighter Bomber
Lead Sled: F-4
Lead Sled: F-100 jet fighter airplane
Loch: 4 Man Low Observation Helicopter
Lucky Lady: U-2 Aircraft
Ma Deuce: M2 - .50 cal Machine Gun.
Mattel Toy: M16
Multiple Launch Rocket System from the acronym "MLRS".
Minigun: rapid fire machine gun with multi-barrels that is electronically controlled, capable of firing up to 6,000 rounds a minute primarily used on choppers and other aircraft.
Missile Sponge: Usually a frigate or destroyer with limited air defense capability stationed on the outer ring of a battlegroup, as they are the ships most likely to be hit in a convoy.
Mosquito Wing: E-2 USAF
Nutsack: Term used for the 100-round ammo holder on a M249 Squad Automatic Weapon.
Pea Shooter: 1. Term used by 155mm Artillery Cannon Crewmembers referring to the much smaller and less powerful 105mm Artillery Cannons. 2. Term used by Artillerymen for anything less powerful than a Howitzer. Example: M-16 Rifle or Mortars.
Pedro: Vietnam nickname for USAF Kaman HH-43 "Huskie" helicopter.
Photo-Phantom: USAF/MC McDonnell Douglas RF-4C/RF-4B photo recon aircraft.
Phrog: CH-46 Sea Knight helo. Also referred to as the "Whistling Shitcan of Death."
Piece: rifle, as used in manual-of-arms (rifle drill)
Pig: 60 Caliber machine gun
Pineapple: (World War II) Slang for a hand grenade, due to the pineapple-like shape of army issue Mk. II hand grenades.
Pineapple Fleet: The Pacific Fleet, usually refers to the Seventh Fleet (in the western Pacific) and specifically to ships stationed in Pearl Harbor. Somewhat confusing term, as Pearl Harbor is considered part of the Third Fleet's area, and not the Seventh.
Pocket rocket: Rocket Propelled Grenade
Poop tube: M79 grenade launcher
Porkchop: Term for the 200-round drum used with an M249 Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW).
Puff the Magic Dragon: AC-47 is a propeller-driven aircraft with 3 Miniguns - capable of firing 6,000 rounds per minute per gun for a total of 18,000 rounds per minute - The mini guns were on one side of the plane. The plane would bank to one side to fire.
Queer: nickname for the EA-6B Prowler. Also
Rock and roll: The fully automatic fire setting on a weapon. "The
M16 selector switch has three settings: safe, semi-automatic, and rock-and-roll."
Sandy: USAF/USN Douglas A-6 "Skyraider prop fighter escort for helicopter airborne rescue missions.
Schocie Tiger: T-38/F-5 jet aircraft
Shack: (USAF) A direct hit against a ground target, often used as praise.
Shanker: M-155A1 Sharidan Tanker
Shark shit: A sailor who has fallen overboard and is lost forever.
Shitter: Common term for CH-53 helicopter (Marines)
SKS: Simonov 7.62 mm semi-automatic carbine
Sky crane: huge double-engine helicopter used for lifting and transporting heavy equipment
Slick: a UH-1 helicopter used for transporting troops in tactical air assault operations. This helicopter did not have armaments, thus it was called a "slick".
Small Boy: Term referring to smaller class ships, such as destroyers and frigates.
Snake: AH-46 Cobra Helo Gunship
Snake and Nape: Close Air Support , 250lb.High explosives bombs followed by Napalm
Snake Eaters: Special Forces personnel such as Navy SEAL's, Green Berets, etc.
Spectre: C-130 Gunship.
Spooky: AC-47 is a propeller-driven aircraft with 3 Miniguns -capable of firing 6,000 rounds per minute per gun for a total of 18,000 rounds per minute - The mini guns were on one side of the plane. The plane would bank to one side to fire.
Super Connie: C-121
Tango Down: NATO phonetic alphabet for "Target Down", i.e. when an enemy or target has been neutralized. Example: "The first guard is Tango Down."
The Truck: Nickname for the A1E Skyraider, Ex-USN, adapted by USAF for close support aircraft.
Thud: F-105 jet fighter
Thump Gun: M-79 Grenade Launcher
Thumper: M-79 Grenade Launcher
Thunder chicken: F-105 jet fighter
Tin can: Destroyer.
Tits Machine: Old-school term for a kick-ass aircraft, usually a fighter, that consisted of little more than an airframe, minimal avionics, and a huge engine or two. The F-8 Crusader was universally accepted as a tits machine. The F-14 Tomcat was also widely accepted.
Torpedo Sponge: Similar to "Missile Sponge", this refers to the smaller ships in a convoy, whose duty it is to protect the carrier, to the point of taking the torpedo hit for the carrier if needed.
Turkey: slang for the F-14 Tomcat
Viper: What their pilots actually call the F-16 "Fighting Falcon"
Wasted: killed
Whale: U.S. Navy Douglas A-3D "Sky Warrior" (carrier capable).
Whistling Shit Can of Death: CH-46 Seaknight Helicopter, described as such because of the whistling sound the engines make, and because the CH-46 has been prone to failures, and has killed its share of air crews.
White Whale: A General's plane--General Abrams's was a C-123.
Whole nine yards: When a bomber gunner used his entire belt of .50 cal ammunittion which measured exactly 27 feet on a single target..
Willy Peter: white phosphorus - an explosive round from artillery, mortars, or rockets, grenades. Also a type of aerial bomb. When the rounds exploded a huge puff of white smoke would appear from the burning phosphorus. The wound was used as marking rounds and incendiary rounds. When phosphorus hit the skin it would continue to burn. Water would not put it out. It had to be smothered (mud was used to seal off the wound) or it would continue to burn until it exited the body.
Winchester: (US Air Force) Out of a particular type of ammunition (e.g. "Negative, we are Winchester Hellfire.") or all ammunition (if no type is specified).
Zapped: killed
Zippo raid: Refers to the igniting of straw huts in suspected Viet Cong villages during the Vietnam War.

[Sources of military slang and jargon: see listing of websites at the end of this post.]

Jesus and Joshua, the great warrior of Israel

Arlandson is correct in pointing out that Jesus did not own or nickname swords or other weapons. However, Arlandson all too conveniently forgets the great warriors of the Jewish sacred tradition to which Jesus belonged.

The very name “Jesus” comes from the bloodiest warrior/hero of the Old Testament: Joshua. The name “Jesus” is the English transliteration of the the greek name “Iesous” but the name “Iesous” is translated as “Joshua” in other cases where the founder of Christianity is not who is being referenced (Luke 3:29; Acts 7:45; Heb. 4:8).

The Hebrew name for the warrior “Joshua” was “Yehoshua.” In the Greek translation of the Old Testament known as the Septuagint, the Hebrew name “Yehosua” (Joshua) was translated as “Iesous” which is the same name used of the son of Mary and Joseph in the Greek New Testament.

Jesus and his parents probably spoke Aramaic rather than Greek, and the Aramaic form of the name of the Old Testament warrior Joshua was “Yeshua”, so Jesus was probably called “Yeshua” by friends and family members. In other words, his actual name, in English, was: Joshua.

Read the book of Joshua, especially Chapters 6-12. It will probably take an hour or two to read those seven chapters. It is filled with slaughter and the glorification of genocidal violence. I doubt that the warrior Muhammad could hold a candle to the level of death and destruction inflicted by Joshua and his murdering soldiers. Here is just one example from Chapter 6:

Joshua said to the people “Shout! For the LORD has given you the city [Jericho]. The city and all that is in it shall be devoted to the LORD for destruction. …”
So the people shouted, and the trumpets were blown. As soon as the people heard the sound of the trumpets, they raised a great shout, and the wall [around Jericho] fell down flat; so the people charged straight ahead into the city and captured it. Then they devoted to destruction by the edge of the sword all in the city, both men and women, young and old, oxen, sheep, and donkeys.
They burned down the city, and everything in it; only the silver and gold, and the vessels of bronze and iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the LORD. (Joshua 6: 16-17, 20-21, & 24)

This genocidal warrior is the person that Mary and Joseph honored by giving his name to their son, the founder of Christianity.

Other great leaders of the Jewish sacred tradition were also great warriors: Abraham and King David, for example. I don’t know whether they gave nicknames to their swords, but they used their swords to kill people, and they led armies into battles. If being a weapon-owning warrior is proof that someone loves or promotes violence and terrorism, then the Old Testament has many such men who are held up as holy men and men of great faith in the Jewish sacred tradition, to which Jesus proudly belonged.

Sources of American military slang and jargon
Military Lingo at VetFriends website

Glossary of some of the words used during the Vietnam War

Appendix:Glossary of military slang - from Wiktionary

Appendix:Glossary of U.S. Navy slang - from Wiktionary

List of United States Marine Corps acronyms and expressions - from Wikipedia

List of U.S. Air Force acronyms and expressions - from Wikipedia

List of U.S. Navy acronyms

Friday, August 16, 2013

Is Islam Evil? Part I

According to Terry Jones, the book-burning pastor of the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainsville, Florida, Islam is of the Devil:


According to an editorial by Jason Pappas published on the “Faith Freedom” website, Islam is Evil:


According to editorials by Robert Tracinski and David Holcberg on the Ayn Rand Institute website, Islam is a religion of War (not peace) that fosters terrorism and totalitarianism:



Is Islam Good or Evil? Is Islam a religion of Peace or of War?

There are at least four aspects of Islam that should be taken into consideration when trying to answer these questions::

1. the history of the followers of Islam
2. the holy book of Islam (the Koran)
3. the life and teachings of the founder of Islam (Mohammed)
4. the beliefs and practices of the followers of Islam

It could be the case that the history of the followers of Islam is one filled with hatred and violence, but that the teachings of Mohammed actually promoted peace and justice, and that the followers of Islam have largely ignored or misunderstood the teachings of Mohammed. The opposite might also be the case: perhaps the teachings of Mohammed promote hatred and violence, but the history of the followers of Islam is primarily one of tolerance and peace. We cannot assume that there is a direct correlation between the teachings of Mohammed and the behavior of the followers of Islam.

If someone were to claim that “Christianity is Evil” we should consider similar aspects of Christianity before accepting or rejecting this strong claim:

1. the history of the followers of Christianity
2. the holy book of Christianity (the Bible)
3. the life and teachings of the founder of Christianity (Jesus).
4. the beliefs and practices of the followers of Christianity

It is absolutely essential that Christian believers ask these parallel questions about Christianity, as they consider the case for the goodness or evilness of Islam. This is because it is all too tempting to use a double standard, and to judge Islam by standards that would never be applied to one’s own religious tradition. If one judges the Koran to be “an evil book”, then whatever standard is used to make that determination must also be applied to the Bible. It might well turn out that the Bible should also be considered to be “an evil book” if the same standard was applied to evaluate the Bible as was used to evaluate the Koran.

As an atheist, I have no big ax to grind on this issue. If Christianity is evil and Islam is good, I’m OK with that. If Islam is evil and Christianity is good, I’m OK with that too. And, if both Christianity and Islam are evil, that would not surprise or shock me. I’m less inclined to believe that both Christianity and Islam are good, but I’m open to that possibility as well.

I am tempted to believe that Christianity is evil, but I realize that it is in fact some mixture of good and evil, some combination of insight and error, and thus any critical assessment of Christianity is going to have to be somewhat qualified. In the end I might conclude that Christianity is more evil than good, but I would have to admit that there is a significant amount of good in Christianity.

If the history of Christians was one of love and peace while the history of Muslims was one of hate and violence, then that would be a big strike against Islam and a big point in favor of the claim “Islam is Evil”. But any person who has even a modest awareness of world history knows that the history of Christians is one filled with hatred, violence, slavery, slaughter, torture, oppression, and warfare.

Not that there are no bright spots in the history of Christians, but we cannot ignore the Crusades, the Inquisition, slavery, witch burnings, the wars of religion, anti-Semitism and the Holocaust, to name a few obvious issues. So, it is rather doubtful that Islam would fail this first test while Christianity passes with flying colors.

At most, one could try to argue that the history of Christians is slightly less violent and less hate-filled than the history of Muslims. There will be no clear winner on this front. Both Christianity and Islam will be found to be somewhere south of “good” and only slightly north of “evil” on a fair and objective evaluation of this first aspect of these two religions.

If someone were to make the claim “Christianity is Evil!”, an obvious first reaction would be: Which version of Christianity are you talking about?

There are Russian Orthodox, Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Anglican/Episcopalian, Lutheran, Calvinist/Reformed, Methodist, Presbyterian, Baptist, Pentecostal, Church of Christ, Mennonite, Quaker, and other kinds of Christianity.

Even within these specific sects of Christianity there is a diversity of opinion and belief. For example, Episcopalians and other denominations are divided over how to view homosexuality and homosexual partnerships. Protestants (and even Roman Catholics) are divided over the morality of abortion and to what extent abortions should be legal. For more than a century, Christians in the United States were strongly divided over the morality of slavery.

It is not at all clear that there is such a thing as “Christianity” if that is supposed to refer to a single set of religious beliefs and moral values. So, to be fair and objective, the claim “Islam is Evil” should be met with a similar question: Which version of Islam are you talking about?
To be continued…