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Maria MacLachlan

Accolades & Quackolades

"There are ~20 published reviews of my book, but this one must be THE BEST! THANK YOU."
Edzard Ernst

"Best blog of the day IMHO."
Simon Singh

"This blogpost is simply brilliant."
Mark Burnley

"You are a rude argumentative bully. You are a typical "skeptic" - not sceptical at all."
Andrew, anti-vaxer

"Your piece about House of Commons Science and Technology sub-Committee’s ‘evidence check’ on homeopathy was one of the best I’ve seen. Strength to your elbow."

" individual calling themselves ‘scepticat’ or ‘sceptikat’- a highly volatile dictatorial site run by a wannabe megalomaniac. A truly disturbed person with a anger management issue venting via their little site to their own personal herd of sycophants."
Centella, one of Dr Andrew Jones personal herd of sycophants.

"Excellent report, which I can vouch for completely."
Jack of Kent

"The ludicrous nature of the complaint, and some of the responses by Dr Ranj and the BBC, has already been expertly documented on the Skepticat UK blog".
Dean Burnett

"Choke on your own vomit and die in agony..."
r wesley edwards, aka @CommonCormorant, author

"A very good rebuttal…"
Anna Watson, anti-vaxer Arnica UK

"A staggering amount of pathological disbelief allied with a staggering amount of arrogance."
Antony J Palmer, homeopath

"I just love this blog, and this post is a fine example of it’s content – ‘Inside the spine wizard’s den’ – Skepticat. Why do some of us feel that we are above challenging argument and peer review? I just wish that I could write as well as some of these bloggers!"
Jonathan Hearsey, osteopath

"Skepticat is a particularly venomousness (sic) skeptic, a humanist who lives by the "golden rule", she refused to let me follow her on twitter because I am "bonkers" which may endear her to many in the chiropractic profession..."
Richard Lanigan, chiropractor

Facebook image helpfully captioned by Sandra A Hermann-Courtney (@brownbagpantry)

"Die Die die die!"
r wesley edwards, aka @CommonCormorant, author

"Loved that article. It really shows what chiropractors are really all about. What I call the "chiro show" Exposing people to totally unnecessary X-rays should be criminal. Thank you!"

"I think skepticat is plain mad at not having children of her own. Hatred projected out to the world. It's sad to see someone with so much self hatred, destroying themself internally without even realising it."
Bebo, chiropractor (Note: In fact I'm the proud mother of two brilliant children, whom I mention frequently. Glad of the excuse to do so again.)

"Hooray for Reason! Just want to thank you for writing this. Even though the arguments presented are tired, and played out, they still must be refuted."

"I understand that you have been traumatised by your experience and that this is your way of coming to terms with the emotional scars."
Stefaan Vossen, chiropractor

"All you really seem interested in is banging your repetitive drum and preaching to the converted."
Rick, osteopath

"All the entries I’ve read are excellent. I’ll be coming back to read more. Love the cat logo as well."

"Research in Homeopathy Conference - Skepticat's hilarious account. She went to it."
David Colquhoun

"Her site is Skepticat UK... she wouldn’t know a punchline if it raped her. Or maybe she’d thank it."
Scott Cappurro, comedian

"I rather love the lunacy of the anti-Homeopathists, such as yourself."
James Pannozzi, acupuncturist & would-be homeopath

"Good blog from a skeptic which examines the "science" of Homeopathy in a very detailed way. Skeptics will love this. Proponents of homeopathy? Not so much."

"I really shouldn’t waste my valuable time with someone who obviously has at the very least a borderline personality disorder."
Erika Alisuag, homeopathist

"I’m finding it difficult to come up with some suitable words to say how good and interesting your stuff is. So, in the absence of suitable hyperbole can I say what a very well written and presented blog you have here. Really well thought out and researched. And passionate about it too! Complimenti!"

"You’re whole life is worthless because you lack reason."
Antony J Palmer, homeopath

"Great stuff Skepticat."

"When you have learnt some big words and also studied your history books you’ll find that the world was once thought to be flat…by people just like you."
Sarah Hamilton, homeopath

"Thanks for keeping the banner of reason flying high."
John Willis Lloyd

"This is just a general comment. I love this well-written an unfussy little blog (I don’t mean little in a derogatory way, but in the sense it’s not bombastic, self-important and posturing). Excellent material and a worthwhile focus, keep up the good work."

"Her website is a temple to diatribe – I have no sympathy for the homeopaths, etc, with whom she battles, but she clearly gets off on confrontation."
JF Derry

"Skepticat is strictly logical and attacks in unparliamentary words what she deems to be “quackery” – or suggestions that she sounds a little strident."
Andy Reporter

"LOVE the badass attitude! Seriously...KEEP IT UP!"

"You were a playful little diversion for a. moment, but I do have better things to do with my time than waste more than half an hour of it stooping down to play your ego supporting self delusional mind games……"
Susan Elizabeth, homeopathist

"An excellent read, thanks for taking thr time to compose it."
Alan C

"You need to do a course in anger management."
katenut, nutritionist

"FWIW I think you manage your anger rather well...mostly by focusing it into a thin, narrow beam of incisive rage which you then use to inscribe words on screen. ;)"

"Excellent description of the events."
Simon Perry

"You seem to be of probably well-meaning, but bigoted and fundamentalist disposition, just parroting slogans from others without any really knowledge or insight yourself."
Neil Menzies

"Superb, as usual"

"You seem only interested in ranting against an enemy which you are apparently still struggling to come to terms with “fifteen years” later."
Rick, osteopah

"Bravo, great post!"

"One day if you are not very careful you will be left behind in the dark ages. I’m sure this will not be printed..but hope it is read by you poor little scaredy cats."
Sarah Hamilton, homeopath

"Brilliant piece!"

"While you babble on like a total airhead about Myhill, you ignore the real doctors who are a danger in the UK".
struck-off doctor, Rita Pal, 'NHS whistle-blower'

"I sincerely hope I never get to your stage of wilful ignorance. You know absolutely diddly squat about the subject but you think your opinion is the only opinion."
Antony J Palmer, homeopath

"Keep up the spin, you manky old chicken's foot."
JB, chiropractor

"I am forced to conclude you are blogging on behalf of a specific entity that does wish to remain anonymous."
Antony J Palmer, homeopath

"The person writing all this negative press on homeopathy must be getting a big fat check from one of the pharmaceutical companies who would dearly love to push homeopathy off the map."
Erika Alisuag

"Such reporting lands you clearly in the realm of fundamentalist extremism–much noise, no substance, and money from those who have something to sell. It is so unfortunate that your listening skills are in need of repair."
Tanya Marquette, homeopath

"She seems to revel in presenting the many insults that she has attracted as a column of “Quackolades” on her site, as if war wounds on display,"
JF Derry, self-publicist

"Oh shut up SK. You write hot air and spew rubbish as usual."
Rita Pal again.

The Muslim activist, his God and objective morality

Atheists, by virtue of being atheist, think there’s nothing wrong with deliberately flying light planes into buildings, killing thousands of people. This view was expressed by a a 25-year-old Muslim from East London with a talent for self-advertisement, who hilariously describes himself as an “intellectual activist who has been working in the field of Muslim apologetics for almost a decade”.

In spite of all those years of activism, I only became aware of Adam Deen for the first time last week when, in the tradition of religious crusaders throughout history, he struck a blow for the god of his rather limited imagination by spamming a bunch of secular internet boards, posting links to youtube videos of himself and running away.

The boards include Atheist Forums, Raving Atheists and the very civilised Think Humanism, where he was welcomed and an attempt to engage him in discussion was made but to no avail. For this reason, I am dedicating this post to him. I am delighted to give him the publicity. He deserves it.

No doubt, there are people who are perfectly entitled to call themselves Muslim intellectuals but, having now watched a couple of Adam Deen’s videos, I can affirm that he is not one of them. A philosophy undergraduate at Birkbeck, the guy frequently has trouble articulating a coherent sentence and there’s many a twelve-year-old that can refute his muddled arguments. These, for the most part, are the same tired old arguments theists always come up with.

Take the one about morality, for instance. Adam says,

God is the best explanation of objective moral truths. My argument here is that if God does not exist then objective moral truths do not exist.

He goes on to say that objective moral truths are ones that are “valid and binding” regardless of our beliefs and opinions. So far this argument is identical to that presented by some Christians. In fact it could have been lifted straight from the debate between Christian philosopher William Lane Craig and Christopher Hitchens.

Assuming these religionists are correct and objective moral truths do come from God, what Adam fails to tell us is how we can know what these are. This, presumably, is where Muslims and Christians part company. A young Christian I heard speaking at a debate organised by the Central London Humanist group last week said that for the source of morality we have to go back to the Bible. Somehow, I doubt whether Adam Deen would agree with that. But if we substituted the Bible with the Qu’ran, he might get on board. From a Muslim’s perspective, Muslim objective morality beats Christian objective morality hands down, I should imagine. And vice versa, of course.

But, seriously, if God’s word, as recorded in whichever scriptures, is the source of objective moral truth, how does Adam Deen account for the fact that some Muslims fly planes into buildings in the name of the same God that he claims is the source of objective morality, while others — including Adam himself — proclaim such actions to be morally wrong?

The answer is that he doesn’t, he can’t and he will go to shameful lengths to avoid admitting it. At the end of this video of a debate hosted by Bradford University’s Islamic Society, Brian Layfield of West Yorkshire Humanists reminds Adam that humanists don’t fly planes into skyscrapers. Adam’s response has to be heard to be believed:

Well in the atheistic view there’s nothing wrong with that because they haven’t demonstrated that objective moral truths exist in the absence of God.

This  labyrinthine piece of reasoning was greeted with enthusiastic cheers and applause from the audience.

His argument — for want of a better word — might be a bit more persuasive if it had in fact been atheists who flew those planes into the twin towers. But I know, Adam Deen knows and even the cheering fuckwits of the Bradford University Islamic Society know that atheists weren’t responsible for 9/11. Muslims were. Muslims who get their morality from the same source as them.

Because if the 9/11 bombers, the 7/7 bombers and anyone else who has screamed Allah Akbar before blowing countless innocent bodies plus their own to bits, don’t get their morals from the Qu’ran, where do they get them from? At the CLH meeting I mentioned earlier, the Muslim on the panel answered this question before it was even asked. With reassuring predictability he dismissed the various “misinterpretations” of God’s word as if they don’t matter. But they do matter because, for one thing, these “misinterpretations” provide horrible men like Geert Wilders with an excuse to make nasty films like Fitna, which depicts Muslims “misinterpreting” the Qu’ran and becoming murdering savages.

For another thing, if supposedly objective moral truths are open to different interpretations even by those who agree on their source (whether that be the Qu’ran, the Bible or anywhere else) then those objective moral truths aren’t a lot of use, frankly.

Alas, Adam, in your attempt to demonstrate that God is the source of objective moral truths, you have succeeded only in highlighting that the Qu’ran is just as useless as the Bible or any other religious book when it comes to determining what is best for humankind. (For that, surely, is the function of an objective system of morality.) If the God you worship is omnipotent, he has no excuses. He should have spelled his moral truths out so they were obvious to everyone with no room for misinterpretation.

Anyway, are these moral truths moral because they are commanded by God or are they commanded by God because they are moral? Adam doesn’t tell us.

Come to think of it, not only has Adam not demonstrated that God is the source of objective morality, he has also failed to prove that objective moral truths even exist. The case he makes for them goes like this:

Deep down we know they exist. We know these things are objectively morally wrong.

*sigh* Feelings about right and wrong demonstrate only that human beings have evolved a sense of right and wrong. Perhaps we are the only members of the animal kingdom to have done so, though this is arguable. (One of Adam Deen’s silliest arguments concerns the “lack of a moral paradigm” in the animal kingdom but whatever point he’s making gets lost in a muddle of contradictions.) But “knowing deep down” things are right or wrong doesn’t tell us anything about objective moral truths and to suggest otherwise is extremely dangerous because it leads to discrimination and oppression, misogyny and homophobia. There’s a clue in there as to how so much hateful, violent stuff got enshrined in the scriptures in the first place.

If God is really the source of morality then God help us! To quote Richard Dawkins:

The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.

Judging from the behaviour of some Muslims — those who fly planes into skyscrapers in the name of Allah, for example — I’d wager the God of the Qu’ran is no better.

One more quote from Adam,

It is hard to see how, in the absence of God, morals can be anything more than subjective expressions of personal taste.

No, Adam, it may be hard for you to see that but for those of us whose ability to reason hasn’t been diminished by years of indoctrination into one religion or another, it isn’t at all hard. For those of us who see the function of morality not as a passport to Paradise but as a means to determine how to live and behave for the good for humanity, for the planet and for the rest of the animal kingdom in this, the only life we can possibly know that we have, it is very easy indeed to see morals as something more than a matter of  “personal taste”.

The best explanation for any of the sacred texts is that they are a product, not of any supernatural transcendent being, but of the “deep down” feelings and prejudices of men of a bygone era (and, given the cruelty and violence contained in the holy books, a bygone era is where those prejudices should have stayed). If religionists want to claim these are the word of God, the burden of proof is on them and they should address the Euthyphro dilemma while they’re about it.

Gods worshipped by Muslims or Christians are no better candidates for the source of moral truths than the gods of the Greeks or the Romans or the Vikings and the existence of objective moral truths neither prove nor disprove the existence of any of these or of the thousands of other gods that humans have worshipped since time began.

My own conclusion — apart from that Adam needs to do a lot of work on his critical thinking skills — is that there are two possibilities:

Either there are no objective moral truths, therefore human beings have to decide what is right or wrong. Or there there are moral truths but human beings can’t agree on what they are, so we have to decide what is right or wrong.

Either way, the result is the same. Human beings have to decide.

Some recommended websites:

Council of ex-Muslims
Apostates of Islam

6 Responses to The Muslim activist, his God and objective morality

  • Hooray for Reason! Just want to thank you for writing this. Even though the arguments presented are tired, and played out, they still must be refuted. Because you never know if someone is looking into the subject for the first time, and this is the kind of videos he stumbles across. You perform a vital service to freethinkers everywhere when you spend your time destroying arguments like these, even if it is for the 1,000,000th time

  • Atheists, by virtue of being atheist, think there’s nothing wrong with deliberately flying light planes into buildings, killing thousands of people.

    He didn’t actually say that, did he?

    Excellent rebuttal, BTW.

  • An excellent read, thanks for taking thr time to compose it.

  • Dear Skepticat – I agree with you completely. The theists have it easy in saying there are objective moral truths, because no-one seems to make them define what they mean. Objective always SOUNDS better than subjective, but this is not science, it’s ethics. One thing that our friends Hamza et al need to be reminded of constantly is that: GOD MAY NOT BE GOOD – WHY SHOULD A CREATOR NOT BE A SADIST, A SPOILT CHILD OR WHATEVER? Sorry for all the capitals, but all the philosophers who engaged Hamza in his propaganda lectures said this (well sort of), yet it still gets ignored by these ignoramuses. To say “There is a god but he is not good” is NOT self-contradictory, and we inevitably judge God (if we believe in such) by our own standards. Also, maybe we secularists could counter the “objective morality” crap by pointing out that one can have consistent (and therefore, in a sense objective) moral codes without recourse to God – for instance, utilitarianism (to which I subscribe basically) and of course the Golden Rule – do as you would be done by.

  • Dear Skepticat – I particularly like your slogan ‘resisting the age of endarkenment’.
    No doubt everyone who reads this has seen the campaign to stop stoning in Iran and save the life of Mrs Sakineh Ashtiani.
    Please could anyone interested sign the petitions at Avaaz and

    Many thanks

  • dear A H Roberts – thanks for alerting me to this, I have now signed this. It is yet another reinder of what militant Islam would be like in practice. I hope humanists support Amnesty International in their campaigns to stop this sort of disgusting persecution.

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