A science of religion

By Razib Khan | June 21, 2007 9:27 pm

U.S. troops form uneasy alliances in Iraq:

Instead, Al Qaeda quickly regained a sanctuary in the province and imposed its extremist interpretation of Islam. U.S. and Iraqi security forces scarcely venture into west Baqubah, where smoking is prohibited, as is the sale of women’s clothing by men. Even placing a cucumber next to a tomato in the markets is forbidden because they have been gendered male and female.

haram.jpgMany people think they can introspect their way toward understanding how other human beings model the world around them. That’s a human bias, we have an innate psychology and in many situations it serves us in good stead. But really, I don’t think most Americans can generate a model where they can make explicable laws against placing different vegetables next to each other because the sexes must not mix. I think the “normal” reaction here is to laugh, but these are people who are willing to kill so that cucumbers and tomatoes don’t occupy the same space. Years ago I was talking to a Muslim who was going to convince me that Islam was true, he had definitive proof. You see, there was a tomato that someone had cut open which exhibited the Arabic inscription “Allah.” Q.E.D. Of course I laughed, and the other individual was left to wonder what was wrong with someone would couldn’t see the power of his proof.
Note: Word of advice: turn on safe search if you query google images for “cucumber.”

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Religion
  • cuchulkhan

    Kind of like looking at modern art and inventing a thousand meanings and themes in your brain, or some of the madder fringes of wine tasting. It tells you nothing about the art and everything about what’s going on in your own skull.

  • http://scienceblogs.com/grrlscientist/2007/06/the_summer_day.php The Ridger

    However, in Victorian England many people didn’t put books by men and women next to each other on the shelf. True, it wasn’t a law, and lots of other people laughed at it, but the two mindsets aren’t that far apart. Religious people obsessed with sex…

  • Caledonian

    Anyone can be obsessed with virtually anything, but it takes a pre-rational mind to treat symbolic associations as real ones.

  • John Emerson

    Alternatively, Google “cucumber sex” if you want to avoid the boring stuff. Seen one, seen ‘em all. (Cucumbers, I mean.)

  • http://scienceblogs.com/gnxp razib

    but it takes a pre-rational mind to treat symbolic associations as real ones.
    yeah, godel was insane!

  • DragonScholar

    You know the funny thing about the Allah “miracle” is that even if it was supernatural, why would it be proof.
    Let’s assume that the cause is something that is supernatural – IE beyond our ability to explain with our current science and understanding of nature. In fact, maybe there’s an outbreak of prophetic produce that really just is hard to explain in any current method.
    That’d be no proof of God. It would say that there is some phenomena of Graffiti Produce occurring, and that it involves recognizable characters. That could then be explored.
    It’s a wide and wonderful world, but don’t go expecting answers in one tomato.

  • Caledonian

    yeah, godel was insane!

    Considering that he starved to death because of his delusions that people were poisoning his food… well, your comment has a certain irony.
    But the whole thing about symbols is that they’re arbitrary associations of properties with unrelated representations. Cucumbers aren’t male, and tomatoes aren’t female, and stretching the prohibition about the mixing of male and female to vegetables is not only madness but dumb.
    People in Victorian England used to cover piano legs because to display human legs in such a fashion would be scandalously improper. That was equally stupid.

  • Caledonian

    Let’s assume that the cause is something that is supernatural

    The problem is that you’re assuming a contradiction. No real phenomena can be supernatural.
    Outside our understanding of nature at any one time, yes. But there’s nothing outside our understanding of nature about pareidolia.

  • http://scienceblogs.com/gnxp razib

    Considering that he starved to death because of his delusions that people were poisoning his food… well, your comment has a certain irony.
    the irony was intentional.

NEW ON DISCOVER
OPEN
CITIZEN SCIENCE
ADVERTISEMENT

Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!

Gene Expression

This blog is about evolution, genetics, genomics and their interstices. Please beware that comments are aggressively moderated. Uncivil or churlish comments will likely get you banned immediately, so make any contribution count!

About Razib Khan

I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. In relation to nationality I'm a American Northwesterner, in politics I'm a reactionary, and as for religion I have none (I'm an atheist). If you want to know more, see the links at http://www.razib.com

ADVERTISEMENT

See More

ADVERTISEMENT

RSS Razib’s Pinboard

Edifying books

Collapse bottom bar
+

Login to your Account

X
E-mail address:
Password:
Remember me
Forgot your password?
No problem. Click here to have it e-mailed to you.

Not Registered Yet?

Register now for FREE. Registration only takes a few minutes to complete. Register now »