Saturday, September 29, 2012

Objection 2 to Embryology in the Quran: Much Ado about Nothing

For a longer list of objections and replies to Embryology in the Quran: Much Ado about Nothing, see the following page,

2. Objection: Nabeel al-Khalidy (hereby LQA) who runs the popular youtube channel LearnQuranicArabic has made the following video response attacking the veracity of one of the claims made in the paper.

LQA asserts that the grammar behind the Arabic term "نُطْفَة" (nutfah) indicates that the word does mean "a singular entity from a bigger group point" which was rejected as being baseless in the paper. He also asserts that sura 75:37 suggests that "نُطْفَة" (nutfah) indicates a substance other than sperm. (09/28/2012)

Reply: LQA’s video can be broken down to specific claims;

(1) The grammar behind the term "نُطْفَة" (nutfah) indicates the definition of “a singular entity from a bigger group of its kind”.
(2) Sura 75:37 indicates that "نُطْفَة" (nutfah) indicates a substance other than sperm.

Starting with (2), the claim made is that verse 75:37 which states “Was he not a nutfahof/from semen (maniyy) ejaculated?” indicates that "نُطْفَة" (nutfah) is a separate substance from “semen” since the word appears separately from the word for “semen”.

It is disappointing to watch Muslim critics merely repeat arguments already addressed and refuted in the paper. This exact claim was made by Hamza Tzortzis.[i] Therefore, this argument was discussed and was found to be baseless.[ii]

The basic summary of the findings in the paper was that the verse 75:37, when analyzed under the proper literary, linguistic and historical context provided by classical dictionaries such as Lisan al-Arab, reveals its meaning to be the following; “Was he not a small amount (“nutfah”) of/from semen (“maniyyin”) ejaculated?[iii]

For an elaborate discussion of the above point, please refer to points 1 and 3 under section “Nutfah” in the paper, Embryology in the Qur'an: Much Ado about Nothing.[iv]

Now for LQA’s main contention (1). Once again, his contention can be found in the following video uploaded on his youtube channel.

First and foremost, some background information needs to be cleared up.

1) LQA is not responding to the paper per se but the short introductory video that was uploaded to the youtube channel of Captaindisguise which only consists of a few points taken from the larger paper.[v]
2) Out of the few points mentioned in Captaindisguise’s video, LQA only attacks one partially, but pretends to have addressed the entire video when he does not. Thus, LQA’s response could be seen as attacking a strawman. Ironically, LQA agrees with the only point from Captaindisguise that he attacked by admitting that Lisan al-Arab does not say something that Hamza claimed it said.
3) LQA has deleted as well as refused to approve the comments left on his video. LQA has also decided to censor his comment section which reveals a lack of confidence in his work plus an intentional attempt to mislead his viewers by making it appear to them that no one objects to his rather poor video.
4) LQA has also refused to link his audience to Captaindisguise’s original video or paper and thus depriving them of understanding the actual claims made. Such actions by LQA can only be reasonably assigned to his intellectual cowardice.

Getting that out of the way, it is once again disappointing to see Muslim critics repeating arguments already addressed and refuted in the paper. A homologous argument was made by Hamza Tzortzis in his paper.[vi] The argument has thus been discussed and was subsequently found to be ludicrous.[vii]

Thus, LQA’s argument below has been addressed in the paper even before he made it. Nevertheless, his specific contention will be discussed below for the purpose of clarity and for the benefit of those who may be misled by LQA’s video due to their inability or reluctance to think critically.

LQA states the following (at timestamp 02:02);

“Just because a person knows Arabic, modern Arabic and has access to a dictionary does not mean he is an authority on the Qur'an”

This is a rather shallow representation of LQA’s opponents with the clear intention of using the tactic of “poisoning the well” or “moving the goalposts”  Certainly one does not need to be an authority of any field in order to check the accuracy of someone claiming a particular source states such and such. Captaindisguise and Martin Taverille have merely done this. For example, it was Hamza’s claim that the classical lexicon Lisan al-Arab defines or suggests the definition of “nutfah” as “a singular entity from a bigger group its kind.” Upon investigation, it was revealed that Lisan al-Arab does not contain such a definition and ironically, LQA admits to this being the case.

LQA then states the following (at timestamp 02:12),

“[Captaindisguise] is saying because of the fact that Lisan al-Arab does not mention that al-nutfah is “a singular entity”, it means that it is not a singular entity"

This is already a very dishonest representation of the points raised in Captaindisguise’s video and perhaps an attempt to keep his audience away from the facts that definitively weaken LQA’s argument. The non-existence of such a definition in Lisan al-Arab was not the only reason for why the conclusion that “nutfah” does not mean “a singular entity” was reached.

There were 4 points mentioned in Captaindisguise’s video and they are;

1) Lisan al-Arab does not define “nutfah” as “a singular entity from a bigger group of its kind” as was suggested by Hamza Tzortzis.

2) Lisan al-Arab specifically defines “nutfah” as “the little/small amount of water remaining in the bucket.” (LQA himself states "nutfah" is a "small amount of water").

3) Also, Lisan al-Arab specifically states that “semen (maniyyin) was called “nutfah” because of its small amount.”[viii] and thus "nutfah" was clearly used to refer to semen synonymously.

4) A hadith from the collection of Hadith Qudsi was mentioned due to it containing a narrative in which Muhammad, the founder of Islam, stating that human beings exist in the form of “nutfah” in the mother’s womb for a period of 40 days;[ix] such a view is erroneous whether “nutfah” means sperm or semen.

None of these points were even acknowledged by LQA and it certainly reveals his “nutfah” of cowardice.

Nevertheless, LQA then spells out his main objections (at timestamp 02:23)

“Now little does [Captaindisguise] know that actually the word "نُطْفَة" (nutfah) is on a specific pattern which is on the pattern of “فُعْلَة” (fua’la). So this pattern that  "نُطْفَة" (nutfah) is upon is actually associated with the individual parts produced by the associated verb.”

On a side note, Lisan al-Arab actually states that “there is no verb for nutfah”. However, for the purpose of argumentation, this statement from Lisan al-Arab is ignored and the following discussion will presume that there is a verb associated with "نُطْفَة" (nutfah). LQA continues (at timestamp 02:43);

“So let me just explain this. So we have the verb, for example, “قَطَعَ” (qataa’a) which means “he cut”, doesn’t matter what he cut but he cut something. If you take the 3 letter root, the “ق” (Qaf), the “ط” (Ta’a), the “ع” (Ayn) and you put it on the pattern of “فُعْلَة” (fua’la), you get “قُطْعَة” (quta’ah). So “قُطْعَة” (quta’ah) is actually a noun that denotes an individual part that is cut. So a person could cut something into a number of pieces. One of these pieces is called “قُطْعَة” (quta’ah). This pattern, “فُعْلَة” (fua’la), is also used for singular parts of the body. So for example, “جُذْمَة” (juzmah) means one part of the body. We have the noun “مُضْغَة” (mudghah). “مُضْغَة” (mudghah) means one lump of flesh or one chewed up lump of flesh and similarly we have "نُطْفَة" (nutfah) which is one part of seminal fluid.”

The above quote from LQA is his justification for his claim that “nutfah” can be defined as “a singular entity from a bigger group of its kind”. Specifically his claim is that “nutfah” means “a singular entity from a bigger group of its kind” because “nutfah” is in the pattern of “فُعْلَة” (fua’la).

The amazing irony of this claim is that while it seems to rely on the specifics of Arabic grammar, one does not need any knowledge of the Arabic language in order to understand the logical fallaciousness of LQA’s argument.

This is because LQA’s premise boils down to the following statement;

“There is a pattern (“فُعْلَة” (fua’la)) in Arabic and any word written in that pattern refers to a singular entity from a bigger group of its kind.”

LQA cannot make his argument valid without accepting the above premise. Quite clearly, the above premise is false which can be easily determined from the examples provide by LQA in his video alone. The examples given by LQA are;

1) “قُطْعَة” (quta’ah) is a piece of wood.
2) “جُذْمَة” (juzmah) is a part of the body.
3) “مُضْغَة” (mudghah) is a lump of flesh.

LQA’s reasoning can be applied to a vast many words in Arabic i.e. if “nutfah” is allowed to be defined as “a singular entity from a bigger group of its kind” merely due to it having a specific morphological pattern (“فُعْلَة” (fua’la)) then it follows inescapably that any word having that specific morphological pattern (“فُعْلَة” (fua’la)) can also mean “a singular entity from a bigger group of its kind.” Any attempts to exclude other words would be special pleading which, without strong reasons, is one of the worst ad hoc fallacies in argumentation.

Thus, LQA’s logic would lead one to conclude that “قُطْعَة” (quta’ah), “جُذْمَة” (juzmah), “مُضْغَة” (mudghah) and any other word of that form can be defined as “a singular entity from a bigger group of its kind.” Interestingly, “مُضْغَة” (mudghah) is a word used in the Qur'an to describe the embryo as a lump of flesh. Would LQA argue that due to the word “مُضْغَة” (mudghah), the embryo is part of a bigger group of embryos?

LQA's notion is also falsified by the words of Muhammad himself. Muhammad can be seen referring to the heart as well as the penis using the word “مُضْغَة” (mudghah) (in &  & This further debilitates the notion that any word that follows the pattern of “فُعْلَة” (fua’la) has to mean "a singular entity from a bigger group of it's kind". A much more consistent explanation for “فُعْلَة” (fua’la) is that it refers to a "small amount of a substance". Thus, it would be coherent for “مُضْغَة” (mudghah) to mean "a small amount of flesh" while referring to the heart or the penis. Likewise, it would be more coherent and consistent with the all the usages of "نُطْفَة" (nutfah) in Lisan al-Arab if it meant "a small amount of liquid" such as semen.

Worsening the tragedy, if one were to mix LQA’s reasoning with Hamza’s logic, one would be arguing that “قُطْعَة” (quta’ah), “جُذْمَة” (juzmah), “مُضْغَة” (mudghah) and any other word of that form are referring to sperm cells as Hamza had concluded that "نُطْفَة" (nutfah) refers to sperm because it was defined as "a singular entity from a bigger group of it's kind." Such an absurd mess is what LQA’s argument inevitably leads to.

Perhaps, the chaos LQA brings is a product of his ignorance of the English language. Perhaps, he does not understand that “a piece of wood” is different from saying “a singular entity of wood”. Likewise, “a small amount of water/liquid” is not equivalent to “a singular entity of water/liquid”. Colloquially speaking, it does not even make much sense to say something like “a singular entity of wood” or “a singular entity of water.” If any meaning can be given to the phrase, “a singular entity of water”, it would have to refer to a single water molecule (which is smaller than the nanoscale). Quite clearly, the phrase “a small amount of water” which would have to refer to a macroscopic amount of water cannot refer to a single molecule of water or a singular entity of water. The same can said of “a piece of wood” or “a part of the body” or “a lump of flesh”. Words such as “amount”, “piece”, “part” etc are not referring to a discrete amount of something. Thus, LQA is flawed in his equivocation of the two very distant concepts. LQA’s flawed thinking is similar to a person claiming that “a small heap of sand” is equal to “a single grain of sand”.

On the other hand, the grand irony of LQA’s video is that it ultimately supports the claims made by Captaindisguise. For example, he defined “nutfah” as “a part of the seminal fluid”. However, this is no different from saying “a small amount of semen” which is the definition or understanding provided by Captaindisguise in his paper, Embryology in the Qur'an: Much Ado about Nothing.[x] More importantly, his definition does not lend any support for any of Hamza’s claims neither does LQA even attempt to demonstrate how his arguments either refute Captaindisguise’s point or support Hamza’s points.

Having made an absolute mess of the Arabic language using his self-employed authority and having failed to refute any of Captaindisguise’s point, LQA continues to state the following ridiculously erroneous or incoherent statements; (at timestamp 04:06)

“This is why the Lisan al-Arab, actually one of the meanings found in Lisan al-arab is “الماء القليل”, a small amount of water. Because we know that seminal fluid is made up of a large number of sperm cells. These sperm cells actually are surrounded by water and this is what actually the sperm cells use to travel to the egg. Without this water, they will not be able to travel. So it amazing that Allah (SWT) actually chose the word nutfah which has the meaning of fluid which is like water that is used by the sperm cell.”

First and foremost, seminal fluid is not made up of “sperm cells” Semen is distinct from sperm. If anything, it is this fact that differentiates modern ideas about reproduction from the ancient ideas. Semen is considered to be a vehicle for the sperm cells.[xi] For example, defects in the testicles could prevent the production of “sperm” yet this would not impact the production of semen which is a separate liquid that exists with or without sperm cells. Thus, LQA is in error when he makes the statement, “seminal fluid is made up of a large number of sperm cells.”

Secondly, LQA’s words are inconsistent with his endeavor. LQA states “nutfah” refers to “the fluid” that is surrounding the sperm cells which in reality is SEMEN. With such a statement, LQA’s video seems like an exercise in vain. If at the end of all the miserable argumentation, if he ultimately concludes that “nutfah” refers to the semen or the fluind surrounding and used by the sperm cells, then everything he has said is in perfect harmony with the points made by CaptainDisguise in his paper. Not to mention the implications of error as it wrong to claim humans are created from semen or the fluid surround the sperm cells when in fact humans are created from the sperm itself.

Overall, a deeper look at LQA’s claims reveal that 1) he is merely repeating arguments already addressed and refuted in the paper; 2) his argument is fallacious, non-specific and inevitably leads to a mess of absurdities; and 3) the bigger picture of LQA’s claims reveals that his points are ironically consistent with all the points made by Captaindisguise and Martin Taverille in their paper, Embryology in the Qur'an: Much Ado about Nothing and more importantly, his arguments do not provide any support for Hamza’s refuted claims and hopes.

[i]. Tzortzis, Hamza 2012. Embryology in the Quran: A Scientific-Linguistic Analysis of Chapter 23. Version 2.1. page 15 
[ii]. Captaindisguise & Taverille, M 2012.  Embryology in the Qur'an: Much Ado about Nothing. Page 35.
[iii]. “نطفة (Nutfah)”. Lisan-al-Arab.  
[iv].  Captaindisguise & Taverille, M 2012.  Embryology in the Qur'an: Much Ado about Nothing. Page 16 and 35 and also can be accessed at the following address;
[v]. Captaindisguise 2012. Embryology in the Qur'an: Much Ado about Nothing – Hamza Tzortzis refuted. 
[vi]. Tzortzis, Hamza 2012. Embryology in the Quran: A Scientific-Linguistic Analysis of Chapter 23. Version 2.1. page 16
[vii]. Captaindisguise & Taverille, M 2012.  Embryology in the Qur'an: Much Ado about Nothing. Page 16 and 35 and also can be accessed at the following address;
[viii]. Ibid., page 16 - 20
[ix]. Hadith Qudsi (or Sacred Hadith). Hadith 4.
[x]. Captaindisguise & Taverille, M 2012.  Embryology in the Qur'an: Much Ado about Nothing. Page 35
[xi]. Stoppard, Miriam 2008. Conception, Pregnancy & Birth: The Childbirth Bible for Today's Parents. Penguin publications. Page 30.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Objection 1 to Embryology in the Quran: Much Ado about Nothing

For a longer list of objections and replies to Embryology in the Quran: Much Ado about Nothing, see the following page,

1. Objection: The word "nutfah" can mean "sperm-drop" since many modern translations of the Qur'an have translated it so; therefore "nutfah" means "sperm-drop". They knew Arabic better than [captaindisguise] therefore they cannot be wrong! Also, "nutfah" in modern Arabic means "sperm". (09/24/2012)

Reply: This is an especially ironic objection given that Hamza Tzortzis himself has stated the following;

"Therefore, a translation will never be a representation of the original text and anyone who seeks total equivalence is chasing a mirage"[i]
Nevertheless, this objection is flawed in every shape and form. The objection can be put into the form of the following argument; (Let “X” = a word and “Y” = a modern scientific term)

1) The Qur'an contains “X”
2) In the 21st century, “X” is translated as “Y”
Therefore, the Qur'an means “Y” when using “X”
For the thinking Muslims, such an objection should seem a bit blasphemous given that Muslims seem to be forced to defend their Qur'an against allegations of error by depending upon the new definitions given to ancient Arabic terms by modern day humans.

On a serious note, the above argument is not even valid. It does not follow from a Qur'anic term having a particular definition in the 21st century that the same definition existed in the 7th century. First and foremost, it completely ignores the simple fact that words acquire new meaning.[ii]

The Islamic premise seems to be that the
 “The meaning of a word that exists at some point in time can be considered to be the meaning of the word at any point in time.”
 This quite clearly is nonsensical and factually incorrect. For example, consider the word “proton” which is derived from Ancient Greek. The word can be seen being used as early as Aristotle.[iii]

Is there any rational person who would conclude that Aristotle was referring to the subatomic particle when he uses the word “proton” merely due to the fact that the word “proton” refers to a subatomic particle in the 21st century? Of course, not!

As such the Islamic premise is false. Thus the argument presented is unsound and this objection can be rightfully dismissed.

The emphasis on how much knowledge anyone has is irrelevant as it would merely constitute the fallacy of appealing to authority. However, if one is bent on appealing to arbitrary authorities, then translations and explanations presented in the paper Embryology in the Qur'an: Much Ado about Nothing are based on the definitions found in academic and classical lexicons and dictionaries that are far more authoritative than any modern translator.

In summary, the objection is flawed as the premise is factually wrong and thus can rejected.

Also see - The Etymological fallacy

[i]. Tzortzis, Hamza 2012. Embryology in the Quran: A Scientific-Linguistic Analysis of Chapter 23. Version 2.1b. page 69
[ii]. Adrian Akmajian et al. 2001. Linguistics, 5th Edition: An Introduction to Language and Communication. MIT Press. Page 25.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Hamza Tzortzis on Nutfah

Hamza Tzortzis, senior researcher and lecturer at the Islamic Education and Research Academy, claims that a term used in the Qur’an  called “nutfah” (نطفة )[i] is defined by the 14th century classical lexicon named “Lisan al-Arab[ii] as “a singular entity from a bigger group of it’s kind” and that this definition means that the term “nutfah” refers to the sperm, ovum and even the zygote and not merely and purely to “semen” which was considered as the reproductive material by those in the ancient world.[iii] Hamza’s goal is for us to be impressed by a 7th century book making a reference to “sperm cells” and “ovum” and even the zygote long before Scientists discovered them.

            Of course, then some of us decided to check “Lisan al-Arab”, and we could not find any definition even remotely closely to “a singular entity from a bigger group of its kind.” Some of us then asked Hamza on his facebook page to provide the original Arabic sentence from Lisan al-Arab, that says ”nutfah” is “a singular entity from a bigger group of it’s kind. ”

            Hamza said he will get back and when he did get back to us it was in this form found in version 2.1b of his paper released in April 2012[iv]. He now says this very convenient definition is suggested by the following words in Lisan al-Arab; “A single drop of water remaining in an emptied bucket.” He also retracts his original that “nutfah” can mean a sperm or an ovum. His new definition is hilariously desperate as he states “nutfah” means “a drop of fluid containing sperm or ovum”.

            Let’s not even comment on how much of a pathetic inference it is to say that the statement “a single drop of water remaining in an emptied bucket” SUGGESTS the very convenient definition of “a singular entity from a bigger group of it’s kind”. The reason for not commenting on it is because this is not where the story ends.

            Some of us then decided to check Lisan al-Arab again and we still could not find the definition of “a single drop of water remaining in an emptied bucket.” However, there were two instances that could be considered as contenders for this definition.

            The first instance is only remotely close due to it containing a reference to “a drop of water”. However, this clearly cannot be helpful to Hamza or any other Muslim because this definition is not even referring to the same word in the Qur'an. The word in the Qur'an is “nutfah” ... the word here is “NuTAfah”. Secondly, Lisan al-Arab is not even defining Nutafah as a drop of water.

            Instead. Nutafah is defined as a “pearl of pure color” which the dictionary describes as being similar to a drop of water. It is not saying Nutafah is a drop of water. Therefore, this cannot be what Hamza is referring to.

            The second instance comes very very close to Hamza’s given definition from Lisan al-Arab. However, it is also vastly different from what Hamza would like it to be.

            Hamza states that Lisan al-Arab defined “Nutfah” as “a single drop of water remaining in an emptied bucket.”

What Lisan al-Arab actually says in the Arabic is the following; 

            The key words are “al-maa’ al-qaleel (الماء القليل)”. Al-maa’ is the commonly used word for water. Al-qaleel means little or small amount.[v] It does not mean “a single drop”. The Arabic for “a single drop” would be;  “al-qatara al-wahida (القطرة الواحدة)”         [vi]

So let’s paint the picture so far.
  1. Lisan al-Arab actually defines “nutfah” as “the little water remaining in a bucket”.
  2. Hamza mistranslates Lisan al-Arab and claimed that it defined “nutfah” as “a single drop of water remaining in a bucket”.
  3. Hamza then claimed (without any justification) that his mistranslation “SUGGESTS” the very convenient definition of “a singular entity from a bigger group of its kind”
  4. Hamza then uses this desperately weak inference based on a mistranslation to make the claim that “nutfah” refers to a sperm, ovum and even the zygote.

            Or at least that was the case in version 1. Since he got busted on his misrepresentation of Lisan al-Arab, his version 2.1 suggests in a very convoluted manner that “nutfah” refers to “a drop of fluid containing sperm or ovum.”

            Now if you thought such an amount of academic dishonesty was the end of it all. Think Again. Here are some other statements from Lisan al-Arab that Hamza did not show us,

            Lisan al-Arab states very specifically that that Semen was called “nutfah” by the Arab because of it’s small amount. In other words, Semen was called “nutfah” because semen is a small amount of liquid. If that wasn’t clear enough, consider this; the very statement from Lisan al-Arab that Hamza mistranslated and subsequently made extremely weak inferences from in order to define “nutfah” as sperm, ovum, zygote etc; was in reality and originally used by the ancients Arabs to define “nutfah” as nothing more than semen!
            Yet if you thought such an amount of desperation was the end of it all. Think Again. The following is a hadith from the prophet Muhammad that was never mentioned by Hamza. The hadith states the following regarding “Nutfah”;[vii]

إنَّ أَحَدَكُمْ يُجْمَعُ خَلْقُهُ فِي بَطْنِ أُمِّهِ أَرْبَعِينَ يَوْمًا نُطْفَةً
 Verily the creation of each one of you is brought together in his mother’s womb for forty days in the form of a nutfah

            Whether “nutfah” means semen, sperm, ovum or even the zygote; humans do not exist in the form of any of these for a period of 40 days! Muhammad is wrong! The Qur'an is wrong and perhaps this is the reason why this hadith was never mentioned by Hamza Tzortzis!

Have you ever seen a man more incompetent? Have you ever seen such a display of academic dishonesty? Would you like to see more examples of such dishonest attempts by Hamza Tzortzis? Well now you can with  Embryology in the Qur'an: Much Ado About Nothing – A refutation of Hamza Tzortzis’ Embryology in the Qur’an: A Scientific-Linguistic Analysis of Chapter 23” authored by myself and Martin Taverille

            All you have to do is visit where the paper can be downloaded or read online. The blog dedicated to debunking the famous Islamic Embryology claim also presents the paper in an easily accessible and readable format by dividing the individual sections of the paper into different pages as well as provide resources for researching the content and raising questions or criticisms! The paper can be discussed in the comment sections of the blog without any restrictions on the character limit. The blog also has information on how to contact the authors of the paper!

            If you are interested in knowing more about the paper, tune into the JinnandTonicShow airing on September 22nd at 8 PM GMT. The episode will be subsequently uploaded to the youtube channel

[i]. Qur'an 23:14. 
[ii]. “نطفة (Nutfah)”. Lisan-al-Arab. Searchable online at
[iii]. Tzortzis, Hamza 2011. Embryology in the Quran: A Scientific-Linguistic Analysis of Chapter 23. Version 1.1. page 12 and page 55
[iv]. Tzortzis, Hamza 2012. Embryology in the Quran: A Scientific-Linguistic Analysis of Chapter 23. Version 2.1. page 14 - 17
[v]. “قليل (Qaleel)”. Edward William Lane. An Arabic-English Lexicon. Librairie Du Liban. 1968. Vol. 8, page 2992. 
[vi]. “al-qatara (القطرة)” . Edward William Lane. An Arabic-English Lexicon. Librairie Du Liban. 1968. Vol. 7, page 2542 & “al-wahida (الواحدة)” Vol. 8, page 2927.
[vii]. Imam Nawawi's 40 Hadith. Hadith 4.; also see Riyadh as-Saliheen Book 1 Hadith 396; & Sahih Muslim Book 33 Hadith 6392 & Sahih Muslim Book 33 Hadith 6395

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Greatest Trick the Devil Ever Pulled

SPOILER ALERT! - The Usual Suspects (1995)

"The Greatest Trick the Devil Ever Pulled was Convincing the World he didn't Exist"
~ The Usual Suspects (1995)

Even as an atheist, I consider the above statement to be one of the greatest lines ever uttered in a movie. The movie is also an all-time favorite of mine. Yet, all that said and done, the above quote has made me uneasy for a long time.

As an atheist, I do not believe in God or the Devil due to the lack of evidence and reasons for holding such beliefs. As such, I could only remain annoyed when in my casual conversations with my theistic friends, the above line was dropped with a smirk of unfounded confidence. Their suggestion is apparent; the atheists, including myself, have fallen prey for the Devil's greatest trick; the illusion of non-existence.

As far as rationality was concerned, there was nothing to worry about the idea that Devil could have deceived all the atheists into believing he did not exist. Just because a Devil could exist and deceive humans; it does not follow that the Devil does in fact exist (As far as I know, I am unaware of any ontological arguments for the Devil).

However, as an occasionally emotional human being, the assurance of logic was not enough to quench the uneasiness caused by the thought that I could be subject to the The Greatest Trick ever sold by the Devil.

WAIT! do you think I am saying that I am scared that the Devil may have tricked me and sentenced me to a life in hell? No, No. That would be hilarious. What made me uneasy was that at least some theists actually believe that "the greatest trick the Devil" could pull was convincing the world he didn't exist.

One question; which devil did such theists sell their imagination to?

As such, here is a greater trick that the devil could pull. Allow me to lead with an analogy. Let us consider a smaller Devil; a con man. A con man, presumably, makes a living dishonestly by pretending to be something that he is not. Generally, they present the audience with ideas or facts that will be considered "good" by the public. Yet, the con man's strategy was only to "convince" them that what he had to sell was "good" (regardless of their actual goodness). It is conceivable, that such a con man could gather support from the masses who have wholeheartedly joined the charlatan with the best of interests.

With the above analogy in mind, consider the Devil again. What would his greatest trick be? That is a difficult question to answer and therefore, let us focus on a relatively easier question; Can the devil perform a trick greater than merely convincing the world he did not exist.

After all, the charlatans and con-men do not gain anything from convincing anyone they do not exist. It would seem that their active presence or existence is required for them to engage in their dishonest practice. Likewise, what exactly is the "trick" involved in the Devil "hiding" from the masses? After all, the con-men and charlatans would be doing the world a favor if they were to pretend to not exist. The same can be said of the Devil. Of course, the Devil could be capable of causing evil while remaining hidden.

Yet one is forced to ask whether the Devil could pull a trick greater than convincing the world the he does not exist.

What about the devil convincing the world that he is God? 

Imagine, an omni-malevolent being named Devil, who appears in different cultures in different forms claiming to be God or messengers of God. Imagine, the Devil appearing through a Jewish carpenter claiming to be the son of God and then 600 years later, appear in front of a different group of people claiming to be an angel of God while deceiving an illiterate merchant in Arabia as well as teaching that those who believed in the earlier "son of God" are wrong and need to be converted. Imagine, the bloodshed and violence such a confrontation would inevitably produce. Imagine, the great many evils that have occurred throughout history in the name of doing "good" and in the name of the "god(s)" who defined the mutually exclusive notions of "good".

Wouldn't the Devil be orchestrating something of such a tremendous scale rather than being the disney-cartoonish genie who whispers gossip into the ears of people (as represented in the Qur'an in Sura 114)?

Does it not make sense then to say that ""The Greatest Trick the Devil Ever Pulled was RELIGION"

Just a thought!