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