February 26, 2009

The Daily Show: Hypocritical GOP Governors

Warning: While the video is very funny, it's more profane than usual (I'd give it an "R" rating).

Stewart: Yeah. That's Bobby Jindal. Louisiana Governor, rising star in the Republican Party, and a leading anti-stimulus voice. His state has been offered $3.8 billion in federal aid. But Jindal has said, "No!" He's only agreed to take... a little over $3.7 billion.

Plain Vanilla Islam

Kay recently asked me at Jay Solomon's blog, The Zen of South Park what I thought of the label "Western Islam," and whether it exists or will exist. This is my reply to her:

Does “Western Islam” exist or could it exist in the future, insha’allah? I would certainly hope not! Islam doesn’t need any innovations of that sort, especially if it’s along the lines of the disaster that was “progressive Islam.” Islam, as it was created and continues to be practiced, serves the needs of Muslims worldwide best without any need for bida. I know that for some people, the temptation to meddle with Islam by attaching other man-made doctrines is strong, but a desire to create a westernized version of Islam is not only wrong, it’s irrelevant. One of the benefits from my travels is that I’ve had the chance to meet Muslims from all over the world (at least two dozen countries so far, and not just from Asia or the US, but a lot of African and European Muslims too). And the one thing that has impressed me the most is just how consistent their understanding of Islam is. Most of the differences I’ve come across in other Muslims is purely cosmetic: changes in dress, foods, and so on. But Islam as they practice it is almost universally the same, regardless of where they’re from. So I’ve no desire to see “Western Islam” (or any other modified form of Islam) created. Plain vanilla Islam, pure and simple, is the only Islam I’ll support.

February 25, 2009

Pun Intended

I'm not familiar with Graham Norton or his work, but if you think fart jokes are funny you'll find this video to be a gas. ;) In case you're wondering, the two women doing the skit are actresses Sharon Gless (wearing glasses) and Tyne Daly from the 1980s cop drama Cagney & Lacey.

A'ishah @ Seven Months

I haven't done a post about A'ishah in some time, but the little darling keeps both Milady and I busy. The first photo is a scene the two of us woke up to on the morning of January 3rd; it's A'ishah's foot sticking out of the side of her crib in the bedroom. I just had to take the photo before we gently extracted her from her predicament. :)

And this other photo is of a brief rest A'ishah had on our bed one day. That's Daddy's manly thigh in the background. ;)

A'ishah turned seven months old a week ago last Tuesday. We discovered on that day that one of her teeth, her left bottom incisor, had broken through her gums; yesterday, I found that the right bottom incisor had also broken through. So she has two teeth already. (We can easily see the upper incisors underneath her gums, but they haven't come out yet.) A'ishah's also learned to crawl very well, and is starting to learn to stand, although she hasn't quite mastered the art of sitting up just yet. Insha'allah.

In recent weeks, Milady and I have discovered a "new" technique to get A'ishah to sleep in the evenings: the lullaby. ;) Except our lullabies are karaoke tunes we both sing to A'ishah off of Youtube. Surprisingly, the tunes that put A'ishah to sleep the fastest are by The Beatles. We've sung a number of songs by other bands (e.g., Abba, The Mamas and the Papas, etc.), but A'ishah stays awake when we sing them. The Beatles definitely put her to sleep the quickest; for example, tonight, we sang All You Need is Love several times and then it was off to bed.

BTW, if you're a "friend" of mine on Facebook, you can see four additional photos of A'ishah there.

February 23, 2009

Maria Sharapova - "I Feel Pretty"

I've seen this ad for Nike on Eurosport's Watts several times now. It's quite amusing if you've never seen it before. Check it out!

February 19, 2009

Santorum: Clueless on Islam

Rick Santorum, former US Senator from the state of Pennsylvania, spoke recently at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and showed us all why he's no longer an elected official. Can you count the number of errors he made? ;) The last line is especially stupid.

Santorum also gave the audience a lecture on Islam. When he asked the audience who knew the difference between the Sunnis and the Shi’ites, three audience members raised their hands. Santorum said this proved his point – America has been at war with Islam for seven years and doesn’t know the two branches.

Santorum said he supported the war when it was unpopular because he thinks not fighting could destroy western civilization. He said he believes that Muslims are America’s enemy because they read their religion literally and apply it to real life, instead of in historical context.

The lecture continued when Santorum pointed out what he thought were the main differences between Christians and Muslims. Santorum said Christians, who believe in Jesus Christ, never governed or conquered anyone, but Mohammed was a warrior and killed people.

Santorum said he believes Muslims’ religious views cannot be changed or altered, so Middle Easterners reject American, democratic ideals.

“A democracy could not exist because Mohammed already made the perfect law,” Santorum said. “The Quran is perfect just the way it is, that’s why it is only written in Islamic.”

HT: Think Progress

Open Thread

Just to show that men don't hold a monopoly on clumsiness... (I do hope that boy in the second clip was OK.)

February 17, 2009


This is a comment of mine to a diary at the website Street Prophets on the topic of lies. The two examples I refer to (with respect to boyfriends and record keeping) are responses to the author's diary.

Nor say of anything, "I shall be sure to do so and so tomorrow"- Without adding, "So please God!" and call thy Lord to mind when thou forgettest, and say, "I hope that my Lord will guide me ever closer (even) than this to the right road." (18:23-24)

For me the crux of a lie is with respect to intent. Do you intend to deceive? Are you deliberately misspeaking? People say something in error, backtrack by saying "Oops, I lied," then say whatever it was they meant to say correctly. Did they lie? IMO, no, because they didn't intend to deceive. They only misspoke, which isn't the same thing as far as I'm concerned.

One thing I find of benefit in Islam is that we rely heavily upon the word "insha'allah," which means "If God wills" (or, in the verse above, "So please God!"). We use "insha'allah" for any future-tense sentence where something has not yet come to pass, thus the outcome is still uncertain. Thus, in a case like, "I tell my daughter that all will be well, that she'll have the boyfriend she wants", we would add "insha'allah." And then there is no lie.

(Of course, there are Muslims who abuse the "insha'allah," saying it when they have no intention of complying. "Will you meet me at the store by 5 o'clock?" "Insha'allah," and they don't show up. That's a lie.)

Now lazy record keeping is another thing, where "insha'allah" doesn't come into play, and there you're playing fast and loose with haram (forbidden) income. Best you keep on the straight and narrow there.

February 13, 2009

Guilty as Charged...

...at least with respect to the second line.

Ting-ting-ting...ting-ting-ting...ting-ting-ting... :)

Update: For the BSG geek in your life, try giving Cylons in America: Critical Studies in Battlestar Galactica, by Tiffany Potter and C. W. Marshall (Editors). (Hint, hint! ;) )

February 12, 2009

Petroleum and Natural Gas Proved Reserves, 2009, Top 10

This is an annual post; the data is only updated annually. For the 2008 data, please click here.

The Energy Information Administration, a department of the U.S. Department of Energy, has recently released the January 1, 2009 proved reserves for petroleum and natural gas. Proved reserves are the amount of oil and gas in the ground that is "reasonably certain" to be extracted using current technology at current prices. The following are lists of the top ten countries for petroleum and natural gas proved reserves, with their quantities and percentage of the world total for 2009:

Petroleum - Billion Barrels
1. Saudi Arabia - 266.710 (19.87%)
2. Canada - 178.092 (13.27%)
3. Iran - 136.150 (10.14%)
4. Iraq - 115.000 (8.57%)
5. Kuwait - 104.000 (7.75%)
6. Venezuela - 99.377 (7.40%)
7. United Arab Emirates - 97.800 (7.29%)
8. Russian Federation - 60.000 (4.47%)
9. Libya - 43.660 (3.25%)
10. Nigeria - 36.220 (2.70%)


  • The world total of proved reserves is 1,342.207 billion barrels of petroleum, an increase of 10.164 billion barrels over 2008's total (a 0.76% increase).
  • The total of the top ten countries makes up 84.71% of the world's proved reserves.
  • Venezuela was the only country to move up in the rankings, having placed seventh in 2008; the United Arab Emirates dropped one place, to seventh.
  • Canada's proved reserves are estimated to be 5.4 billion barrels of conventional crude oil and 173.2 billion barrels of oil sands reserves. (Oil sands are much more costly to refine than conventional crude oil.)
  • Two countries had singificant increases in their amounts of crude oil proved reserves in 2008: Venezuela, with an increase of 12.342 billion barrels, and Libya, with an increase of 2.196 billion barrels. Ten other countries also had increases in their proved reserves as well; however, the highest amount of any of the ten was 442 million barrels (Brazil).
  • Two countries had significant depletions in their amounts of crude oil proved reserves in 2008: Iran, with a decrease of 2.250 billion barrels, and Mexico, with a decrease of 1.149 billion barrels. Thirteen other countries also had decreases in their proved reserves.

Natural Gas - Trillion Cubic Feet
1. Russian Federation - 1,680.000 (26.86%)
2. Iran - 991.600 (15.85%)
3. Qatar - 891.945 (14.26%)
4. Saudi Arabia - 258.470 (4.13%)
5. United States - 237.726 (3.80%)
6. United Arab Emirates - 214.400 (3.43%)
7. Nigeria - 184.160 (2.94%)
8. Venezuela - 170.920 (2.73%)
9. Algeria - 159.000 (2.54%)
10. Iraq - 111.940 (1.79%)


  • The world total of proved reserves is 6,254.364 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, an increase of 42.029 trillion cubic feet (a 0.68% increase). (I've noted a discrepancy in the difference between 2008 and 2009, coming up with an increase of 41.714 trillion cubic feet, a difference of 0.315 trillion cubic feet.)
  • The total of the top ten countries makes up 78.35% of the world's proved reserves.
  • There were no changes in the top ten rankings.
  • Twelve countries had increases in their total proved reserves in 2008, for a total of 83.968 trillion cubic feet; however, this was partially offset by decreases in a total of fourteen countries, with depletions of 42.254 trillion cubic feet.

February 9, 2009

US Employment Levels Analysis

After publishing my previous post yesterday, I decided to take a closer look at the numbers.

My first thought was, while comparing the current recession to the previous two downturns makes sense, I didn't know how this recession compared to the others before 1990-91, such as the big recession in 1981-82 (a vivid memory for myself). Were there any recessions that were worse than either 1981-82 or 2007-09? (For my analysis, I'm using November 2007 as the start of the current recession.)

What I did was to download the US employment levels data, seasonally adjusted, from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) for the period of January 1948 to the present. From this data, I found nine downturns in which employment sank on a significant basis, followed by a recovery period. I then took percentages from the nine downturns in which the highest level of employment prior to the downturn (the peak month) is equal to 100%. Following months, through to the point where the employment level once more reached the level of the peak month, were then compared as a percentage to the peak month.

What I found is that the 2007-09 recession is already the eighth worst downturn of the nine. Through January 2009, the employment level is at 96.89% of the peak month's level, a drop of 3.11%. Only the 1953-54 recession is worse (-3.82%). And, of course, there is no bottom in sight yet for the 2007-09 data; if current trends continue, 1953-54's record will be broken in either February or March at the latest.

Adding to the distress is the fact that 2007-09 is already in its fourteenth month past the peak. Only two other downturns took longer: 1953-54, which lasted sixteen months, and 1981-82, which lasted twenty months.

Eventually, of course, previous recessions reached a bottom and then began a period of economic recovery. Of the eight previous recoveries, the average length of time was 12.38 months from the trough month through to the level where employment reached the previous peak. (It should be noted, though, that the previous two recoveries, 1991-93 and 2002-03, took twenty-one and seventeen months respectively, which were by far the two longest recoveries since 1948.)

If the 1953-54 recession is any guide to what may be in store for this recession, any recovery back to November 2007 employment levels will not occur prior to March 2010 at the earliest, and quite possibly not until August-December 2010.

Let's hope I'm wrong, and that we reach the trough and the recovery months more quickly.

February 8, 2009

3,600,000 and Counting

Here's a graph to make you wet your pants a little. As The Gavel points out, the current recession is much, much more serious in terms of job losses to date (3.6 million and counting) than the previous two. And there's no bottom in sight.

This chart compares the job loss so far in this recession to job losses in the 1990-1991 recession and the 2001 recession – showing how dramatic and unprecedented the job loss over the last 13 months has been. Over the last 13 months, our economy has lost a total of 3.6 million jobs – and continuing job losses in the next few months are predicted.

By comparison, we lost a total of 1.6 million jobs in the 1990-1991 recession, before the economy began turning around and jobs began increasing; and we lost a total of 2.7 million jobs in the 2001 recession, before the economy began turning around and jobs began increasing.

February 6, 2009

US Unemployment Rates - December 2008

The December US regional and state unemployment figures were released in late January. The figures, overall, continue to get worse. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Overall, the "official" national unemployment rate (U-3) increased by 0.4%, from 6.8% to 7.2%, over November's number. (November's percentage was revised upward by 0.1%.) For the past twelve months, the national rate has increased 2.3%.
  • For the most inclusive unemployment rate measured (U-6), the increase was 0.9%, from 12.6% to 13.5%. For the past twelve months, U-6 has increased by 4.8%.
  • In terms of monthly change, the states with the largest increases were Indiana and South Carolina, both with a 1.1% increase; six states had a 1.0% increase: Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New York and Oregon.
  • On an annual basis, the state with the largest increase continues to be Rhode Island with an increase of 4.8%. North Carolina remains in second place with an increase of 4.0%, and Nevada has jumped into third with an increase of 3.9%.
  • The states with the lowest annual increases are North Dakota at 0.3%, Arkansas at 0.7%, and Iowa and Oklahoma at 0.8% each.
  • The state with the highest unemployment rate is Michigan, which increased 1.0% to 10.6%; Rhode Island remains in second place, with a rate of 10.0% (up 0.7%). South Carolina comes in third at 9.5% (up 1.1%).
  • The states with the lowest unemployment rates continue to be Wyoming (3.4%, up 0.2%), North Dakota (3.5%, up 0.2%), and South Dakota (3.9%, up 0.5%).
  • In terms of non-farm payroll employment (i.e., number of jobs), the states with the biggest decreases since November were California (-78,200), Michigan (-59,000), and New York (-54,000).
  • For annual changes in non-farm payroll employment, the states with the biggest decreases are California (-257,400), Florida (-255,200), and Michigan (-173,000). Texas continues to be the nation's bright spot, with an annual increase of 153,700, down 67,500 from November.

The PDF version of the Bureau of Labor Statistics press release can be found here.

February 5, 2009

Response to BamBam

Once again, I've decided to take a response to a comment on my blog and make it its own post due to the length of the reply.

It is really interesting to me that you would choose (6:25) since you read in it that god veils the hearts of non believers against believing, basically condemning them to his hell without any chance of reprise theoretically, the exegesis for this aya is also revealing.

Actually, I hate to say, I never chose this verse (or 8:31) for the reason you ascribe; I chose both verses because of the similarities of language between what the polytheists in Makkah said ("These are nothing but tales of the ancients.") and what Nizar said ("...you still worship the same ancient myths..."). No more, no less.

However, since you bring up the topic ("basically condemning them to his hell without any chance of reprise theoretically"), I disagree with your assertion; I believe Muhammad Asad's exegesis is more on the mark:

Since it is God who has instituted all laws of nature - which, in their aggregate, are called sunnat Allah ("the way of God") - this "sealing" is attributed to Him: but it is obviously a consequence of man's free choice and not an act of "predestination". Similarly, the suffering which, in the life to come, is in store for those who during their life in this world have wilfully remained deaf and blind to the truth, is a natural consequence of their free choice -just as happiness in the life to come is the natural consequence of man's endeavour to attain to righteousness and inner illumination. Note 7 (Quran Ref: 2:7)

...that is to say, man's "going astray" is a consequence of his own attitudes and inclinations and not a result of an arbitrary "predestination" in the popular sense of this word ... In his commentary on the above verse, Zamakhshari stresses this aspect of free choice on the part of man and points out that "God does not cause anyone to go astray except one who, as He knows, will never attain to faith; and He does not guide anyone aright except one who, as He knows, will attain to faith. Hence, the [expression] 'causing to go astray' denotes [God's] leaving [one] alone (takhliyah) and depriving [him] of all favour, whereas [the expression] 'guidance' denotes [His] grant of fulfilment (tawfiq) and favour .... Thus, He does not forsake anyone except those who deserve to be forsaken, and does not bestow His favour upon anyone except those who deserve to be favoured." Commenting on the identical phrase occurring in 16:93, Zamakhshari states: "[God] forsakes him who, as He knows, will [consciously] choose to deny the truth and will persevere in this [denial]; and ... He bestows His favour upon him who, as He knows, will choose faith: which means that He makes the issue dependent on [man's] free choice (al-ikhtiyar), and thus on his deserving either [God's] favour or the withdrawal of [His] aid ... and does not make it dependent on compulsion [i.e., predestination], which would rule out [man's] deserving anything of the above." Note 4 (Quran Ref: 14:4)

In other words, non-believers are not "condemned to hell without any chance of reprise." They all have the chance throughout their lives to mend their ways if they will only take the opportunity. The question is, will they? The further they go down the path of unbelief the more likely they will not do so. As they follow along that false path their hearts become more and more veiled. And yet there is still hope (IMO). We are all tested, believer and non-believer; insha'allah, we may recognize the errors of our ways prior to death.

IT is not always the imitation in us that drives us to move further away from religion, sometimes it's knowledge that does that. History is full of examples where people of highly regarded religious knowledge move away from religion because of moral conflicts.

In which case I'd say that people are failing their tests. Knowledge doesn't equal conviction. Knowledge isn't the most important criterion. Perhaps you're familiar with this part of a hadith qudsi (#6)?

[Another] will be a man who has studied [religious] knowledge and has taught it and who used to recite the Quran. He will be brought and Allah will make known to his His favours and he will recognize them. [The Almighty] will say: And what did you do about them? He will say: I studied [religious] knowledge and I taught it and I recited the Quran for Your sake. He will say: You have lied - you did but study [religious] knowledge that it might be said [of you]: He is learned. And you recited the Quran that it might be said [of you]: He is a reciter. And so it was said. Then he will be ordered to be dragged along on his face until he is cast into Hell-fire.

Don't just rely upon your nafs to say, "Well, I'm smart enough in my knowledge of religion to say that this apparent conflict goes against my principles; therefore, religion is wrong and I'll become a non-believer." If your principles were in line with your religious knowledge you'd work your way through the moral conflict:

Whoever among you witnesses a bad thing, it is necessary for him to bring that to a halt with his hands, and if he does not have the potential for that; then he should stop him through his tongue, And if he does not have the ability to stop that with his tongue, then by his heart; he should think bad of this sin and that is the lowest level of Iman.

The reality that religion (abrahamic and otherwise with few exception) creates moral conflict in our current society and doesn't allow the space for it to be more encompassing of growing trends or realities. So the result is that people either create new sects with encompassing understand of their own religion or drop it all together into the ritualistic sphere ... others adhere strictly (usually causing conflict) and they should all co-exist.

The details of human life change over time; the nature of humanity hasn't. As I commented on a friend's blog:

Have we really changed? No.

You have left, O Hector, sorrow unutterable to your parents, and my own grief is greatest of all, for you did not stretch forth your arms and embrace me as you lay dying, nor say to me any words that might have lived with me in my tears night and day for evermore.” (Andromache, the wife of Hector, grieving over his death in The Iliad)

The Iliad is perhaps the world’s first novel-length story, with the text being written down - at the latest - by the 6th century BCE. I’ve always thought that if you can understand the grief of Andromache, then humanity hasn’t changed in at least the past 2500 years.

The Qur'an and Islam (indeed, one could argue all religions) are concerned about human nature. "Growing trends and realities" are irrelevant. Nothing has really changed except that people would rather follow their nafs by either creating sects or going into unbelief.

I leave you all with one question, would a person who leads a moral life and does his fair share of goodwill and is religious deserve to be incarcerated and tortured for an eternity in a place called hell because he picked the wrong god?

Allahu alim. Who are we to judge who goes to hell and who doesn't? Are you trying to set yourself up as judge of humanity? You've certainly made a start, setting up your own standards; the problem is, you don't know if your standards match His standards. Best I think to follow His, considering that yours is pure conjecture and He is all powerful.

February 2, 2009

Response 2a to Nizar

Because Nizar has been waiting so very patiently for my response to his comment, and I'm going to be tied up through this Friday at the very least, insha'allah, with PhD application matters, I thought I'd post what I had written so far; insha'allah, I'll get to his other questions later.

Second, I wouldn't really call my self slipping, because my actions are not the result of what you might call an accident caused by carelessness, lake [sic] of attention or self occupation in life but rather a conscious choice taken that based on logical thinking.

I think your so-called "conscious choice ... based on logical thinking" is partly rationalization (led on by your nafs). I do think, to a degree, that your decision is based in part on a carelessness in studying your religion. (When was the last time you read the Qur'an? When was the last time you read the Qur'an very carefully, including reading someone's exegesis?) I suspect that your case is somewhat monkey-see, monkey-do. A lemming-like desire to follow the path of other scientiests. "If they are so smart and yet they became atheists, then maybe I should be like them in that regard too."

Third, I doubt that you understand me simply because all the switching that you have done is just from a religion to another, which doesn't make a lot of difference because you still worship the same ancient myths that hasn't been proven to exist in any way just in a different method.

First, I don't think you read what I wrote very clearly (just as in your next point). Secondly, you not knowing me, I only told you part of my religious background; you're probably assuming that I'm only familiar with Abrahamic religions; in fact that's not the case at all. As for proof, we'll discuss that below. BTW, do you know how much you sound like the pagans of the Prophet's (pbuh) time?

Of them there are some who (pretend to) listen to thee; but We have thrown veils on their hearts, So they understand it not, and deafness in their ears; if they saw every one of the signs, not they will believe in them; in so much that when they come to thee, they (but) dispute with thee; the Unbelievers say: "These are nothing but tales of the ancients." (6:25)

When Our Signs are rehearsed to them, they say: "We have heard this (before): if we wished, we could say (words) like these: these are nothing but tales of the ancients." (8:31, and so on)

Fourth, Rationality is not a trap!

I didn't say rationality is a trap; I said that the Cult of Rationality is a trap. There's nothing wrong with rationality per se; in fact it's encouraged by Allah (swt) in the Qur'an. What's a problem is when people begin a form of "worship" for rationality. Dhikr, the remembrance of Allah (swt), gets pushed back by the cultists in favor of a reliance upon rationality, thinking that rationality is the panacea for mankind's problems. Not all problems can be solved by science, logic or technology.

Fifth, Science and logic are no replacement product for morals and ethics.

Unfortunately, the Cult of Rationality believes that the opposite is true.

Morals and ethics are not a product of religions although religions have contributed a lot in developing human morals to the point that it is at today.

Don't begin to contradict yourself. Morals and ethics are indeed a product of both religions and philosophy, with religion probably contributing much more to the development of both morals and ethics than philosophy.

...nor is it [technology] vital for human existence because it is more of a luxury than a necessity.

Riiight. So do you eat your food raw with your hands? Or do you use kitchen utensils, stoves, microwaves, etc., and dine on plates, bowls, and so on? When are you moving out of your home to live in the forest? Be sure not to build a lean-to or use any knife or axe; that's technology too, you know. (I point this out, even though it's a tangential issue, to show that you're not fully reasoning through some of your arguments.)

So you claim that science and logic are not the right tools to pick if I want to understand life, but instead I should choose morality?

No, I'm saying you use the right tools for the job. Science, logic and technology are fine for the purposes they were designed for, which you stated in your definitions. To live a good life you're going to use tools like morality, ethics and philosophy. However, even living a "good, moral life" is not requisite enough to get into heaven (jannah), even if you do believe in an afterlife. (Allahu alim.) According to the Qur'an, the three minimum requirements are belief in Allah (swt) and the Last Day, and to work righteousness (which I would take to mean living a "good, moral life"); this is per 2:62. Based on other readings I believe the worship of Allah (swt) is also extremely important. (Certainly prayers will be counted first above all other actions on the Day of Judgment, as per Ahadith Qudsi (#9).) As Naeem pointed out the other day, you can gamble: if you don't believe in an afterlife and there is none, then nothing is lost (nothing is gained, either). However, if there is an afterlife and you've gambled the wrong way, then the penalty may be very severe; likewise, the reward for having gambled the right way may turn out to be better than the penalty (although you may then face a charge of hypocrisy and face the same penalty as an unbeliever would). Ideally, you live your life as a pious, true believer. Islam, as you know, provides the basis for both belief in Allah (swt) and the tools for living a good life (morality, ethics, philosophy). Living a good, moral life is only one-third of the equation.

...but what if I tell you that non-believer behave better morally than believers and I can prove to you that with statistics.

I already know the "statistical" argument, and it's quite weak. You're going to want to say that the percentage of atheists/agnostics in prison is much lower than the percentage of atheists/agnostics in the general public. Here are three reasons why that argument is weak:

  • You're trying to define "moral behavior" in terms of who goes to jail and who doesn't. However, going to prison is not always equivalent to "immoral behavior." A person can behave immorally and yet not go to prison. One could, for example, lie, commit adultery, be mean (stingy, miserly), be a party to abortions, dishonor one's parents, and so on, and none of those would necessarily land you in jail. Yet the person is still behaving immorally. Your "statistics" don't capture that data. Immoral behavior is a far broader category than just those people who go to prison.
  • Not all criminal behavior requires a jail term. People might be charged with crimes for immoral behavior and receive other forms of punishment (fines, community service, probation, house arrest, restitution, etc.) while never actually stepping inside a jail cell. Neither side of your equation takes into account both sets of data.
  • Going back to the idea that "going to prison is not always equivalent to 'immoral behavior,'" one does not necessarily need to commit immoral behavior with the intention to do wrong and still end up in jail. For example, manslaughter. "A" hits and kills "B" with his car while "B" was crossing the street legally. "A" did not intend to kill "B" as the incident was purely an accident. Even so, almost all states in the U.S., for example, have vehicular homicide statutes on their books and people like "A" may find themselves in jail for a very long time.

These are three reasons off the top of my head; if I spent more time, I might be able to think of a few more. The surprise for me is that atheists and agnostics, who pride themselves on their "rationality," fail to take into consideration these flaws.

Sixth, How do you know that God exists outside the universe?

I'm actually working on that post; however, it's been pushed to the back burner as I have several other higher priorities to do right now.