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Is Obama secretly a Muslim? And did God sign a fish? - Jackdaws love my big sphinx of quartz [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]

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Is Obama secretly a Muslim? And did God sign a fish? [Jan. 10th, 2013|04:58 am]
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Start with the second question: did God sign a fish?

According to Muslim lore, the answer is yes. This isn't about that one fish in Britain that was born with the word "Allah" on one side and "Mohammed" on the other. That seems like a perfectly normal omen or possibly portent.

This is about an entire species, the Koran Angelfish, pomacanthus semicirculatus. Native to the Arabian sea, the fish goes through a number of life stages; during one, it displays what appear to be the words "La'illah ill'allah" ("there is no God but Allah") on one side of its tail, and the words "Sahni Allah" ("a warning from Allah") on the other.

I like this piece of lore. Every so often religious people ask me what evidence I would expect to see if God existed - whether, having apparently been unimpressed by the splendour of Nature and by the Bible that I demand showy miracles during every generation. And no, I don't demand anything showy. I would be pretty happy with a species of animal whose coat, or scales, or whatever, consistently displayed the phrase "God exists", or preferably "God exists, and this text being displayed on this animal isn't just a coincidence." I would prefer the message be encoded in the digits of pi, for safety and ease of access. But a species of animal would be sufficient. Inability to even do that much seems suspicious.

But the Muslims say God has done his job, that pomacanthus semicirculatus fulfills my minimum standard of proof. What do we do with that?

Now let's get back to our first question: is Barack Obama a Muslim?

The latest chapter in the age-old quest to prove Obama is Muslim centers around a mysterious gold ring he has worn since childhood.

According to WND.com:
"As a student at Harvard Law School, then-bachelor Barack Obama’s practice of wearing a gold band on his wedding-ring finger puzzled his colleagues. Now, newly published photographs of Obama from the 1980s show that the ring Obama wore on his wedding-ring finger as an unmarried student is the same ring Michelle Robinson put on his finger at the couple’s wedding ceremony in 1992."

The article is fleshed out with hilarious satirical pieces from Obama's college and graduate days (1, 2). Why did I have to wait until I read a crackpot conservative website to see these?!

Anyway, back to the ring. Extreme magnification appears to show what looks like curvy text in a mysterious language, which WND believes they have deciphered:

How much do you want to bet it ends out transliterating as "ash nazg durbatulûk, ash nazg gimbatul, ash nazg thrakatuluk, agh burzum-ishi krimpatul"?

Fun fact: Wikipedia's page on The Black Speech includes a blurb at the top saying "For the real world dialect, see African-American Vernacular English"

WND actually transliterates the text as "la'illah ill'allah", Arabic for "there is no God but Allah". Why would the President of the United States be wearing a ring reading "there is no God but Allah?" I can only think of one plausible explanation:

Barack Obama is secretly an angelfish.

No, sorry, WND wanted the other plausible explanation. They think he is secretly a Muslim. So secretly that he wears the defining statement of the faith plainly written on piece of jewelery that shows up clearly if anyone photographs him, which people occasionally do when you are President of the United States.

Snopes debunks the myth with a higher-resolution photograph:

Oh, phew. It's just a perfectly normal totem of the Snake God.

This better photograph clearly reveals the ring to just have a pretty wavy pattern. This seems to be a natural hazard of - no offense to Arabic speakers - having a language that basically just looks like squiggly lines.

In Arabic, the curves in this river mean "I was formed by the random action of erosion, and my spelling out this legible sentence is only a coincidence"

As best I can tell, this explains the fish as well. From the few pictures of Koranic Angelfish online, as well as the few pictures of the proper Arabic phrase, the match isn't any better than could be expected from pareidolia alone.

And the same explanation seems sufficient for the Allah meat, Allah tomato, Allah eggs and beans, Allah goat, and Allah ice cream. I'm going to go ahead and recommend the Allah Diet, where you can only eat foods with Allah's name on them. Stay away from the Allah baby, though.

(Disturbingly, the Allah baby article mentions that this new miracle was only "months after a baby was born in Lagos with a Holy Quran in his hand". Trying to come up with a non-supernatural explanation for how this could happen is incredibly disturbing and you should not try this.)

So I'm afraid I just can't take the fish seriously. Come back when God manages to write something on an animal in English.

Or at least can stick to one religion. Come on, God!

I like these stories because feeling superior to people who see fake patterns in visual data eases the sting of my gullibility to fake patterns in logical data.

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[User Picture]From: st_rev
2013-01-10 10:15 am (UTC)
/slow clap
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: avanti_90
2013-01-10 10:27 am (UTC)
Barack Obama is secretly an angelfish.

Excuse me while I die laughing.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: ikadell
2013-01-10 08:01 pm (UTC)
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: cartesiandaemon
2013-01-10 10:29 am (UTC)
LOL, that was awesome.

I also note, that Christians and Atheists (and Jews) agree "there is no god but Allah", so Obama could consistently wear such a ring, although I admit it'd be really unlikely he'd have it in Arabic.

I assume Arabic-speaking Christians would avoid the phrase, but I don't know, maybe they'd use it.

For that matter, even if it did have a message he didn't completely endorse, he might wear it if it was a wedding ring belonging to a dead parent or grandparent, etc.

I also note, even if you don't like him, most people don't think Obama is stupid. If he WERE a secret Muslim (which BTW, there's NOTHING WRONG WITH), it seems unlikely he'd walk around with "no god but allah" written on his hand... :)
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: jordan179
2013-01-10 02:11 pm (UTC)
I don't think Obama's stupid, but I don't think he's particularly smart either.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: philmophlegm
2013-01-10 10:58 am (UTC)
If we ever find a fish whose scales spell out the words "Darwin was right", that would take some explaining...
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: squid314
2013-01-10 11:23 am (UTC)
I think the explanation would end up looking something like Huxley's explanation for samurai crabs.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: Julia Wise
2013-01-10 02:29 pm (UTC)
I can't find it anywhere, but I thought I remembered hearing about a fish in East Asia that was selected for a pattern on its side that looked like a human face. Every time fishermen found a fish with something like a face on it, they threw it back in case it was a ghost or something. Making a nice evolutionary advantage for fish with faces on them.

The fact that a fish developed holy writing in Arabic in the Arabian sea and not on Cape Cod makes me think fisherman behavior could have shaped a fish with what looked like Arabic script, especially holy script.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: Julia Wise
2013-01-10 02:30 pm (UTC)
Oh, crabs. That's why I couldn't find it.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: maniakes
2013-01-10 06:15 pm (UTC)
The cross-calf clearly evolved its markings as a defense against the vampires who are responsible for the vast majority of cattle mutilations.

Also, I'm looking forward to when Allah Baby grows up into Allah Man, Nigeria's greatest superhero. He can team up with Batman bin Suparman.
(Reply) (Thread)
From: gjm11
2013-01-10 07:45 pm (UTC)
You omitted "ash nazg thrakatuluk".
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: sniffnoy
2013-01-10 08:13 pm (UTC)
Rather, he put it in the wrong place.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread) (Expand)
[User Picture]From: ice_hesitant
2013-01-10 08:42 pm (UTC)
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: drethelin
2013-01-10 09:36 pm (UTC)
So now I'm really curious as to what the actual explanation for a ring he's worn for over 30 years
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: fiddlingfrog
2013-01-11 01:55 am (UTC)
Yeah, that was the question I was hoping would be answered in this post. I mean, wearing a ring is one thing, but to use the same ring as your wedding ring years later is just a bit out of the usual.
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