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Wikipedia Refuses To Remove Pictures of Mohammed from Entry,

despite 90,000+ signatures on an online petition (though a quick skim of a few signatures suggests that not all of them endorse the petition's views).

Good for Wikipedia. An encyclopedia may certainly choose not to include such pictures, and still remain true to its mission. (I don't think it would be right for the encyclopedia to remove important historical details that some people are offended by, though the encyclopedia authors would surely have the First Amendment right to do this; but drawings representing the subject are not a necessary part of an accurate discussion of the issue.) But I think an encyclopedia may also properly refuse to succumb to such pressure, and I approve of the Wikipedia editors' refusal here.

Kalo:
You call it an "encyclopedia"? I hope, you are not the teacher.
2.5.2008 3:29pm
Curt Fischer:
This comment confuses me:


You call it an "encyclopedia"? I hope, you are not the teacher.


Wikipedia seems like an encyclopedia to me. Is your problem with wikipedia or with encyclopedias generally?
2.5.2008 3:33pm
AntonK (mail):
"Wikipedia as Accurate as Britannica"

See here
2.5.2008 3:37pm
John (mail):
Wikipedia certainly takes a lot of crap from people--much deserved--so it's nice to see them doing the right thing.
2.5.2008 3:39pm
Ben P (mail):

"Wikipedia as Accurate as Britannica"

See here


Of course Britannica challenged the methdology of that study, but It still has some validity.

Wikipedia is very useful within a limited set of purposes. It shouldn't be quoted as authoritative, but it's a good general knowledge source and can often provide a jumping off point for finding links to more authoritative sources.
2.5.2008 3:42pm
darelf:
Wikipedia is generally accurate as long as it is not an article about religion or politics.... or some history... oh, and celebrities...

Basically, hard science and computers are about the only thing you can trust on there....
2.5.2008 3:42pm
Blue:
And Pokeman.
2.5.2008 3:44pm
Snitty:
Curt, agreed.

It's certainly an encyclopedia, though, whether or not it's reliable or should be used in scholarly pursuits is up for debate.

Unless, of course, there is some trait associated with encyclopedias that I'm not aware of (and don't say accuracy, because for many entries wikipedia is more accurate than the britantica)
2.5.2008 3:44pm
M. Gross (mail):
Wikipedia is generally properly sourced. Just follow the sources and quote the sources instead of Wikipedia itself.
2.5.2008 3:45pm
ScottVA:
Very much agree with Darelf. I use wikipedia on a probably daily basis and find it a great tool. However I find time and time again, that the more I know about a subject, the more I'm likely to have a big problem with wiki pages.

Absolutely agree that for hard science and computers (ie, things most people dont understand), and also TV shows, movies, etc (ie things everybody knows about), wikipedia is top notch. Anything about Islam / Israel/Palestine / etc is a wasteland.
2.5.2008 3:50pm
Jeff R.:
Unless, of course, there is some trait associated with encyclopedias that I'm not aware of

Coming in several volumes, each one of which would be more than sufficient as a weapon against attacking small rodents?
2.5.2008 3:51pm
another anonVCfan:
From a Wikipedia entry on Herbert Hoover:

"Both of [Herbert Hoover's] parents, Jesse Hoover and Hulda Minthorn, died when Hoover was 9 years old. His father died in 1880 and his mother in 1884."

Hoover must have been a leap-year baby.

Joking aside, good for Wikipedia.
2.5.2008 3:53pm
Randy R. (mail):
Okay, here's what I don't get. So these people are upset that there is a picture of Mohammed. Apparently, that offends them. But why? I understand that he didn't want any representations off him, so pictures are forbidden. But, so what? If ultimately, they claim that it offends God, or goes against the will of god, or whatever, then again, so what? Lots of things go against 'the will of god,' but apparently, he has no problems with it, 'cause the internet is still working, Wikipedia can be accessed, and I haven't heard of any earthquakes this month.

When will all these religious fanatics both Christian and non, realize that if there is a god, he would prefer the time and energy be put to better use, like helping the poor or the ill.
2.5.2008 3:54pm
Click here:

"Wikipedia is generally properly sourced. Just follow the sources..."



Let see:

http://wikiscanner.virgil.gr
2.5.2008 3:55pm
Temp Guest (mail):
Actually, Wikipedia is pretty good on non-controversial issues in history, politics, biography, etc., etc. For example, Wikipedia's summary of the Thirty Year's War is excellent, including the biographies of even controversial figures like Wallenstein, Frederick the Prince Palatinate, etc. and the summaries of the battles, e.g., Luetzen, Nordlingen, the sack of Magdeburg, White Mountain, etc. It's a much more balanced account than you'll find in standard texts like Wedgewood's.
2.5.2008 3:59pm
Bill T. (mail):
What I don't get is why was it OK to depict Mohammed back then but not OK now? The paintings shown were supposedly done hundreds of years ago, by Muslims! Did something in the interpretation of the Koran change in the intervening centuries so that it's no longer OK to show his picture?

I am cornfyoosed.
2.5.2008 4:05pm
Jason F:
Lots of things go against 'the will of god,' but apparently, he has no problems with it, 'cause the internet is still working, [and] Wikipedia can be accessed


Not in large parts of the Muslim world. Hmmm....
2.5.2008 4:06pm
Oneell (mail):
I use wikipedia from time to time, but only casually... That said, my understanding is that anyone can edit anything about any entry... Couldn't the 90k petitioners have just joined wikipedia and removed the picture?
2.5.2008 4:06pm
Dan Weber (www):
For anything controversial, the people willing to spend the most time on Wikipedia win.
2.5.2008 4:15pm
Elliot Reed (mail):
I'm actually concerned that this decision violates Wikipedia's Neutral Point of View policy. Wikipedia is essentially taking sides on an Islamic theological issue, where this position is hardly idiosyncratic or held by only a small number of people. On the other hand, taking down the picture is not a concession that the theological viewpoint is correct and would not significantly impair the mission of the encyclopedia. So I think not having the picture up would be a superior decision, especially since the depiction is a 16th-century artwork in which he is not very clearly portrayed, rather than a portrait by a contemporary.
2.5.2008 4:17pm
Blue:
I don't agree, Elliot. That implies that a specific religious belief should have any bearing on the contents of the encyclopedia. The issue is not whether Mohammed should be represented or not--Islam is clear on that. The issue is whether that Islamic prohibition should be extended to non-Muslims. Agreeing to the prohibition is a clear NPOV in favor of one side.
2.5.2008 4:22pm
Richard Gould-Saltman (mail):
Good for Wikipedia, though this seems to be another demostration that you can get a few thousand people on the Internet to sign up to petition for ANYTHING, particularly if religion's involved.

Wikipedia, after all, simply reproduced pics from centuries-old manuscripts which, I believe, are still extant, and the petitioners don't seem to have noticed that, or called for their destruction. Nether did the petitioners apparently bother to read down the page further to the link to the Wikipedia page "Depictions of Muhammad" (which includes several more, including, notably the Dore' illustration from Dante's Inferno of Muhammad in Hell)or to the page linked from there about the "Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy"; either page, compared with the relatively benign picture complained of, presumably would have sent the petitioners into apoplexy.

r gould-saltman
2.5.2008 4:22pm
MDJD2B (mail):

When will all these religious fanatics both Christian and non, realize that if there is a god, he would prefer the time and energy be put to better use, like helping the poor or the ill.

How do you know what God wants? And why can't He want both respect AND good works?
2.5.2008 4:23pm
ellisz (mail):
Elliot, what about non Muslims who want to know how Muhammed has been portrayed through history?
2.5.2008 4:26pm
Elliot Reed (mail):
Blue: why is declining to depict the prophet, as a gesture of politeness or respect, a violation of NPOV while depicting him is not? That makes no sense to me. (I would be opposed to extending the prohibition throughout the encyclopedia: if the artwork at issue has its own page, it would be inappropriate not to include it even if it's offensive to Muslims.)
2.5.2008 4:28pm
Freddy Hill:
Wikipedia is firewalled in China. It refuses to censor its contents to please the Chicoms. Microsoft, Yahoo, and Google (corporate motto: "Don't be Evil") all caved in. So the Mohammed thing is totally consistent for them. It warms my heart.
2.5.2008 4:35pm
Elliot Reed (mail):
Freddy: we're talking about removing a single image from a single page as a gesture of respect. Comparisons to the type of Wikipedia-wide censorship that pleasing China's censors would require are so patently absurd as to be unworthy of refutation.
2.5.2008 4:39pm
alias:
Good to see a petition instead of people blowing stuff up in the streets.

Though I suppose it would take a bit more sophistication to find something to burn to reflect outrage at wikipedia. There isn't exactly a wiki-embassy in Lebanon.
2.5.2008 4:40pm
Dan Weber (www):
Depicting Mohammed or not has nothing to do with NPOV.

However, it is Wikipedia policy not to censor. Surely there are reasons to censor now and then, but the onus is upon the people wanting something removed to justify it.

If "being offensive" was grounds, Wikipedia would become worthless. (Cue the obvious joke.)
2.5.2008 4:42pm
SomeFella (mail):
Here here for Wikipedia!
2.5.2008 4:42pm
EH (mail):
If ultimately, they claim that it offends God, or goes against the will of god, or whatever, then again, so what?

Exactly. Plead "infidel" and be done with it.

Wikipedia is generally properly sourced. Just follow the sources and quote the sources instead of Wikipedia itself.

Which speaks to one of the primary rules of Wikipedia: "No original research." Wikipedia itself is merely a collection of pages describing information found elsewhere.
2.5.2008 4:50pm
Oligonicella:
The writings of a non-Muslim are of no concern to Muslims, except for the fact that they wish to exert their tenants on the non-Muslim. This has not a jot to do with respect, it is about intimidation.
2.5.2008 4:57pm
John Burgess (mail) (www):
Depictions of the Prophet by Muslims have been around for quite a while. Shi'a tend not to have had much problem with them. You find pictures of Mohammed from the Ottoman period as well. But most Sunnis believe the Quran to explicitly forbid representational art of living beings (not much different from some readings of the 'no graven images' commandment held by some Jews and, of course, Iconoclasts).

As Islam itself is not of a uniform opinion (as though Islam were a unified religion), could not avoid 'picking sides'. It happened to come down on the side of historical accuracy and something that doesn't particularly worry the Shi'a.
2.5.2008 5:01pm
DG:
Elliot, I don't think you understand NPOV. Its a style of writing and certainly has nothing to do with including images or not. Its not some kind of Prime Directive ordering neutrality in all things. For example. using honorifics for deities and prophets is forbidden,too. An article on God couldn't use G-d. Strangely, the Jews aren't getting out of shape.

This is an aspect of Islam that I just cant understand. Like the homosexuality thing in some christian sects. Why the emphasis?
2.5.2008 5:04pm
Gary McGath (www):
There's no such thing as a "neutral point of view" between censorship and free speech. How would it be implemented? By showing just half of any image that religious nuts object to?
2.5.2008 5:13pm
Dr. Weevil (mail) (www):
Actually, it would be easy to implement: just put the pictures on a separate page with a warning on the link. Don't like pictures of Mohammed? Don't look at them! Want to see them? Click on the link.

Removing them entirely would be non-neutral: it would favor those who disapprove of the images. That seems totally wrong. Leaving them up allows those who want to see them to see them, and those who do not to stay away. Putting them on a separate page is slightly better in that it would allow the latter group to read the text about Mohammed without being forced to look at the pictures, while the former group can easily look at both.
2.5.2008 5:29pm
Marisa M (mail):
The Wiki founder- Jimmy Wales- is a self described "hard core objectivist". Not surprising that Wiki is standing its ground.
2.5.2008 5:32pm
Kazinski:
I agree with Elliot, it is a simple matter of of respect. I think it is also a matter of respect to remove this blasphemous image that violates the 2nd commandment.

I also think it would be a matter of respect to remove any references to the Yankee's collapse to the Red Sox in the 2003 playoffs.

I've got a whole list.
2.5.2008 5:35pm
CDU (mail) (www):
One point to add to what others have said. Wikipedia is licensed under the Gnu Free Documentation License, so if Muslims are really that offended, they could always fork their own Mohammed-free "Islamapedia".
2.5.2008 5:35pm
Orielbean (mail):
Some would argue that a neutral point of view would be to offer up all available info and let G-d sort it out (or educated people make decisions to review, approve, and/or ignore).
2.5.2008 5:36pm
Freddy Hill:
Elliot: If Wikipedia did not uphold its principles in seemingly trivial things it would not have the moral standing to hold them in big issues. And refusing to cave in to pressure of 80K+ zealots (yes, zealots) is resisting a clear attempt at censorship, an attempt that, if not resisted, would certainly be followed by pressure to remove anything remotely critical of Islam.
2.5.2008 5:36pm
Scote (mail):

Elliot Reed (mail):
I'm actually concerned that this decision violates Wikipedia's Neutral Point of View policy. Wikipedia is essentially taking sides on an Islamic theological issue

Giving into censorship != neutral point of view.

Talking about something and including images that pertain to the controversy isn't "taking sides" either. By your thinking it is "taking sides" to discuss both sides of an issue.
2.5.2008 5:45pm
Andrew Hyman (mail) (www):
Wikipedia is all politics. They have an article about abortion, but if you try to include an image of what is aborted then you'll be stoned to death. They won't allow an image of a fetus before and abortion, much less an image of a dismembered fetus after an abortion.

Maybe if it was Mohammed being aborted, they would allow an image.
2.5.2008 5:45pm
Dan Weber (www):
One point to add to what others have said. Wikipedia is licensed under the Gnu Free Documentation License, so if Muslims are really that offended, they could always fork their own Mohammed-free "Islamapedia".

In theory. In practice, extracting information from Wikipedia turns out to be hard, according to friends who have tried. Sure, you can grab the text as it existed, 4 months ago. But merging in subsequent data changes are a real hassle.
2.5.2008 5:51pm
GaryW:
I'm actually concerned that this decision violates Wikipedia's Neutral Point of View policy.

There is a definitional problem here. Neutral with respect to what frame of reference? Wikimedia is a non-profit foundation based in Florida. Presumably Wikipedia's 'Neutral Point of View' must not conflict with the laws of Florida or the United States. Furthermore, the foundation itself has a point of view regarding the sharing of information which can not coexist with a point of view that thinks that information should not be shared, such as advocated by people who want to forbid pictures of Mohammed.

If the Wikipedia community or the Wikipedia foundation decide to accede to the demands of the petition, they are undermining their own mission. What other groups will demand information to be removed?

The real question is: Will the State of Florida and/or the United States defend the right of Wikipedia to share those pictures or will they shirk that responsibility if the petitioners go beyond petitioning?
2.5.2008 6:05pm
CEpperson:

The real question is: Will the State of Florida and/or the United States defend the right of Wikipedia to share those pictures or will they shirk that responsibility if the petitioners go beyond petitioning?


That sefinitly is thw question. One I am affraid to have answered. They will probubly sue in Great Britian so that they can get a judgement.
2.5.2008 6:10pm
Margo:
I start looking at an article from its history tab. Then go straight to compare the deleted/"corrected" before entries. That gives me an idea, how dull this whole piece of wikicrap is.

By the way, showing picture of Christian god is as equally prohibited, except long forgotten.
2.5.2008 6:10pm
Richard Gould-Saltman (mail):
Sez Andrew Hyman:
Wikipedia is all politics. They have an article about abortion, but if you try to include an image of what is aborted then you'll be stoned to death. They won't allow an image of a fetus before and [sic] abortion, much less an image of a dismembered fetus after an abortion.

. . .and conservative Christian fanatics are sometimes almost as good as Muslum fanatics at parodying themselves far better than a creative writer ever could.

Where to start?

My Wikipedia shows me a bunch of pics of fetuses (feti?); it just doesn't happen to have one flagged as part of the "abortion" article with a big bumper-sticker-like-label saying something like "You're killing this baby!" which I gather would be his preferred presentation.

I've been edited on Wikipedia, and deleted; the Wikipedists-for-Prevention-of-Vice sent not a stone-thrower, deadly or otherwise, to my door. The Wikipedia pages relating to the abortion and fetal research issues provide what appear to be fairly comprehensive links to sites for advocates on both sides, where, I suspect, Mr. Hyman can find all the pics of dismembered fetuses he wants. I'm afraid that, in this forum, the idea that conservative Christian anti-abortion crusaders are somehow a tiny oppressed/outlawed minority in this country, persecuted even by those big, evil, government-sponsored (did I mention "stone-throwing"? Did i say anything about their jackboots?) Wikipedians, just doesn't get much traction.
2.5.2008 6:21pm
Andrew Hyman (mail) (www):
Richard Gould-Saltman:

If I wuz you, I wouldn't make so many assumptions. I'm a Christian fanatic? Does that make the editors of the Mohammed article anti-Muslim fanatics? You might try toning your rhetoris down just a tad. I am not Christian, and I dare say that I'm not a fanatic.

And if you would take the time to read what I wrote above, you might notice that I was criticizing the Wikipedia abortion article for including NEITHER an image of an intact fetus prior to abortion NOR a dismemebered fetus afterward. They won't tolerate either one. Seems kind of fanatical to me.
2.5.2008 6:28pm
Darcy Lane (mail):
wikipedia is flawless when it comes to '80's video games, pop music and tv shows.

on politics and history, not so much. there are a plethora of propaganda warriors that distort entries and delete things they don't like. they are relentless and patient, and many have gained admin privileges. In my experience, trying to edit over there, there is a HUGE liberal bias. check out all the editors trying to add anything a few determined, powerful admins don't like to glenn greenwald's page, for example. at the same time, check out the 'sockpuppet (internet)' page, which smears a number of republicans. its the type of double standard that is rampant over there- blogs are not considered a viable source, unless they are smearing a conservative. then its all good.
2.5.2008 7:06pm
Mike Z (mail) (www):
If Wiki were a Muslim encyclopedia, removal would make sense. Wiki is not. (That it is an encyclopedia is also taken for granted (go look up the definition of "encyclopedia"). Whether it is the Last Word on any given topic is more than questionable - but most people past high school know that its content comes from everywhere (many pages say things like "citation needed").) Even people who use the EB, use it as a first source.

The entry on Muhammad seems fairly well-researched. There are 167 citations and a few dozen other references.

I'm sure they would love to have corrections from any serious Muslim scholar.
2.5.2008 7:09pm
Pickles (mail):
Where do I sign the "I support Wikipedia's decision and freedom of speech" petition?

As an analyst, a quick skim through some of the signatures noted that most who commented using the Prophet's name did not use the phrase "Peace Be Upon Him" or initials "PBUH." This makes me question the knowledge some of these signatories truly have about Islam itself, let alone whether or not Muhammad is permitted in pictures (as mentioned, it used to be okay, and then somewhere along the way, zap!).

Also as an analyst, yes, seeing the pictures themselves does make a difference. You cannot analyze something accurately if you have a mental image of something that turns out to be completely inaccurate.
2.5.2008 7:10pm
Scote (mail):
...consider that you could literally get the death penalty in Afghanistan for reading or passing around this Wikipedia article.

The death penalty for Blasphemy. That's the mindset of Islamic censors, the believe that a libel action must be taken out on behalf of god and that the appropriate tort is death. I'd prefer not to believe in a god that has the same capricious needs as violent human hoodlams--to kill people for perceived insults of the slightest nature.

Blasphemy, libel in the name of a client who can't even be bothered to show up to court. Case dismissed.
2.5.2008 7:16pm
Emerson (mail) (www):
I immediately went to see if they had a picture up of "Piss Christ", and sure enough they did, without any qualifying statement. So, they'd better not back down on this one!
2.5.2008 7:42pm
Milhouse (www):
BTW, the Hoover article has been fixed. That strange bit of nonsense had only been there since 30 Jan. That's longer than most vandalism lasts on WP, but not terrible.
2.5.2008 7:44pm
Ivan W. (mail):
Let me put another angle on the story:

If Wikipedia gave in on this, where would it end? For example, there is some controversy over other religous issues. The Wikipedia article on Mormon Temple garments, for example (sarcastically called "magic mormon underwear" by rude people) has pictures of the garments.

That is deeply offensive to Mormons, and Mormons are told not to photograph the garments, ever. However, Wikipedia has declared that they won't take down the pictures.

If Wikipedia gave in on the Mohammed pictures, would they then give in on the Mormon garments issue? What if a Hindu sect complained about something else?
2.5.2008 7:45pm
rc:
I'm just glad that you can't stab Wikipedia.

Or blow it up.
2.5.2008 7:54pm
Donald Sensing (mail) (www):
There are no pictures of Mohammed. There are only drawings or paintings of a bearded guy that may be claimed to be analogous of what Mohammed may have looked like.

But there are no pictures of Mohammed any more than there are pictures of Jesus.

Besides, Muslim illustrators have been drawing pics of "Mohammed" for centuries. Islamic art expert Wijdan Ali wrote an essay that the prohibition against depicting Mohammed did not arise until as late as the 16th or 17th century.
2.5.2008 8:03pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
For awhile, a couple of years ago, I was seeing a lot of cites to Wikipedia as authoritative in blogs. And, the stuff being cited would inevitably highly biased, typically leaning far to the left. So, I started distrusting any and all Wikipedia entries.

But, slowly, I have started using it more and more. Now, the first place I look for a generic description of something is Wikipedia. In my work as a patent attorney, I find myself routinely using Wikipedia entries in the background of patent applications I am drafting. Since these entries tend to be technical and non-controversial, it tends to be relatively accurate. And, it tends to be generic enough that it fits in nicely and never makes inadvertent admissions.
2.5.2008 8:44pm
htom (mail):
The more political a topic is considered to be by some, the more heat there is in that topic. The Hoover article, btw, said "His father died in 1880 and his mother in 1884, leaving him an orphan at the age of 10." just a minute ago. It may have changed.
2.5.2008 8:57pm
Kevin P. (mail):
I use Wikipedia as a non-authoritative introduction to a subject. It is pretty good in that role.

I also edit and contribute to Wikipedia. I agree that there is a liberal-left bias because there are many editors who lean liberal-left.

However, this is part of the beauty of Wikipedia - if you object to the bias, simply become an editor and correct it! This is what I do. Oftentimes, providing complete coverage and perspectives is sufficient to correct the bias.

So if you think that Wikipedia is biased, become a part of the solution.
2.5.2008 9:18pm
Chris Smith (mail):
Wikipedia is a great place to begin research.
As with the United Nations, after all of the criticism has settled, is not the world measurably improved by its existence?
2.5.2008 9:28pm
Gaius Marius:
It's time for the Muslims who signed this petition to join the rest of the world in the 21st century.
2.5.2008 9:38pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"I'm actually concerned that this decision violates Wikipedia's Neutral Point of View policy. Wikipedia is essentially taking sides on an Islamic theological issue, where this position is hardly idiosyncratic or held by only a small number of people."

The theological issue says all people are subject to the Sharia. I'm not. Neither is Wiki. How about you?
2.5.2008 9:44pm
ReaderY:
Not so sure that the world will end depending on which way the controversy goes. Since the picture was created hundreds of years after his death, it's quite possibly not very accurate. Its educational value could certainly be legitimately questionioned.
2.5.2008 9:54pm
Waldensian (mail):
#$A <----- that is a representation of the Prophet Mohammed.

Now the VC editors face the same dilemma as Wikipedia. The suspense is killing me.
2.5.2008 10:10pm
Randy R. (mail):
MD:"How do you know what God wants?"

I don't know, but I don't pretend to know either. Furthermore, I don't particularly care. That's why he gave us free will, to be able to do something that even he is against.

" And why can't He want both respect AND good works?"

He can. It's his followers who can't seem to give both.
2.5.2008 10:38pm
pmorem (mail):
Pickles wrote:
Where do I sign the "I support Wikipedia's decision and freedom of speech" petition?

It's
here, and enter a public comment along. I kicked in $50, along with a comment against censorship.
2.5.2008 11:02pm
pmorem (mail):
... or you can go through the front page of wikipedia, and hit the donate button. It takes you to the same place.
2.5.2008 11:03pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
Muslims aren't the only ones: Adherence to the "no graven images" commandment kept Jews from sculpting and painting for centuries.
2.5.2008 11:39pm
theobromophile (www):
When will all these religious fanatics both Christian and non, realize that if there is a god, he would prefer the time and energy be put to better use, like helping the poor or the ill.

Well, define "better use." From the Christian perspective: If you read the Ten Commandments, you'll see that the first bunch of them are all about honouring God: no other gods before him, no graven images, no using the Lord's name in vain, etc.

Further down the list, you get to the "love thy neighbour" part, which is certainly relevant, but not underscored, bolded, and highlighted like the "I am God and I am first" commandments. Dishonouring the Lord in any way - the Creator, the Word - is the worst thing you can do.

Of course, you're getting into the theological debate about how people are saved - through works or through knowing God and salvation in Jesus. If you believe in salvation through good works, you'll want to spend your time helping the poor. If you believe John 4:16, it is more important to covert others so that their eternal souls are not spent in fire, torment, and away from their Creator. (It is more important to avoid eternal anguish - that being the ultimate suffering for a really long time - than to avoid temporary misery.) Ergo, it is "best" for believers to convert non-believers, rather than expending the same amount of energy improving their material condition.

Then again, depending on your feelings, you might think that people will be improved - and more Christ-like - through suffering (Hebrews 7, IIRC).

I'm not religious, so someone can correct this at will....
2.6.2008 1:03am
K Parker (mail):
Chris Smith,
As with the United Nations, after all of the criticism has settled, is not the world measurably improved by its existence?
The world improved by the existence of the UN????


No.


Oh, you wanted the longer answer: Of course not.




Ohhhh, you mean the really really long, detailed answer? I'm afraid it's not available; you'd have to ask the fine folks of Srebrenica, or the Darfurians, and I hear they're in fairly short supply these days.


Waldensian, what a ridiculous picture! Everybody knows M. really looks like this:
 _
( )
. .
\/


:-) Sorry that looks so lame; it's darned hard to do ascii art in HTML. (Actually, it's hard to do ascii art in any format, or any art for that matter, if you're me...)
2.6.2008 2:34am
Timekeeper:
Several people have touched on it already:

Wikipedia should not be used as a primary source, as Wikipedia itself states. A properly written Wikipedia article (and there are plenty of them) will have inline references citing each statement; those sources can be checked to verify the content.

Articles that have been highlighted as "Featured Articles" have undergone a thorough review, and a facet of that review is verifying sources, and (more importantly) verifying that they are accurate. Featured articles don't have references from blogs, discussion fora, or MySpace pages. Wikipedia is not supposed to publish original research, which includes combining parts of multiple sources to create a new conclusion (it's called synthesis).

Contentious articles tend to have a fair share of PoV pushing, and there are some areas that are not at all reliable, because they have been flashpoints for repeated abuse. Articles dealing with "alternative" anything (9/11 conspiracies, Homeopathy, Scientology), and some of the more virulent nationalism movements, such as Israel/PA, Armenia/Azerbaijan, Macedonia/Greece, Liancourt Rocks (that's a Japan/South Korea dispute), are areas that one must remain skeptical before consulting the sources.
2.6.2008 2:17pm
Randy R. (mail):
yes, indeed, theobromophile, it is a theological debate, which is exactly what the petitioners tried to squelch, and many other religious people do as well. The issues you raise are in fact good meat for a discussion. However, most religious fanatics know what they know, know they are right, know that everyone else is wrong, and don't wish to be bothered with actual thinking, which is what your questions require.

When someone has a good answer to your questions, and can *prove* the answer, then I will listen to a lecture about God's will. Until then, they can go back home and not bother other people.
2.7.2008 12:41am
Tony Iovino (mail) (www):
I guess the petition demanding that Muslims stop using mentally retarded girls as walking land mines got lost in the mail.
2.7.2008 8:17am
LLCoolBeans (mail):
By the way, here is Wikipedia's explanation of its decision and why it is a "neutral" position:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Muhammad/FAQ
2.7.2008 2:23pm
Fred (mail):
Wikepedia has, as has already been mentioned, articles on Mormon undergarments along with discussions of Mormon temple ceremonies, Scientology 'theology' and discussions of a (NSFW) "Prince Albert" piercing! Removing something just because it's offensive isn't in the cards...
2.9.2008 11:35pm