Islam Has Rules For Praying In Space

By Morris M. on Saturday, February 1, 2014
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“And thirdly, the code is more what you’d call ‘guidelines’ than actual rules. Welcome aboard the Black Pearl, Miss Turner!” —Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)

In A Nutshell

If we know anything about Islam, it’s that its followers are required to pray towards Mecca five times a day. Sounds simple right? Well, maybe if you’re on Earth. Orbiting the planet at 27,000 kph (17,000 mph) it’s a whole different ball game. After two Muslim astronauts encountered problems in orbit, 150 Islamic scholars called a meeting and produced a detailed set of guidelines for Muslims praying in space.

The Whole Bushel

When Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor blasted off to the ISS in 2007, he was the first Malaysian and only the third practicing Muslim to visit space. But he wasn’t really able to focus on the honor, as his journey was marked by an improbable amount of thorny theological quandaries.

As a devout Muslim, how would he know where to turn to face Mecca from orbit? With a sunset and sunrise occurring on the ISS every 90 minutes, when should he fast for Ramadan? With water at an absolute premium in space, how would he ritually wash himself? To answer his questions, Malaysia called a conference of 150 Islamic scholars, who produced possibly the first religious guide to worshiping in space.

Approved by the country’s National Fatwa Council (thus making it official, at least in Malaysia), the document sets out the rules for a new generation of Muslim scientists intent on heading for the stars. Among its recommendations were mentally projecting Mecca’s holy mosque (the Ka’aba) into space to avoid praying to the floor and using local time at the launch site to determine sunrise and sunset. A damp cloth or symbolically striking a mirror were decreed to be acceptable stand-ins for ritual washing, while the Halal problem was got around by advising space-faring Muslims to eat only enough to ward off hunger.

As others have pointed out, many of these rulings open up further paradoxes for taking religion into space. What happens when a team of Muslims from different launch sites works together in space? Do they designate one launch site for sunrise and sunset or all work on different time zones? Other issues have yet to be addressed. A new Islamic month starts with the first sighting of the crescent moon: Will that include the moons of future planets we may explore? These are just a few of the issues in the cards for the future.

Intriguing as it is, if Malaysia’s conference above teaches us anything, it’s that space exploration is going to be even more complex than we thought; especially if we choose to take our religions with us.

Show Me The Proof

Wired: A Muslim Astronaut’s Dilemma: How to Face Mecca From Space
The Guardian: Islamic scholars produce guide to praying at 17,000mph
Featured image credit: obskura

  • Poke poke splat

    Surely when faced with the proof of there being no god in space these religious types should accept that they have been blindly following a piece of fiction for a long time. What will happen when/if we eventually meet intelligent alien life forms that religion has no answer for?

    • Logan Cole Rieck

      This is a bit silly. The fact that God isn’t more visibly present in space than Earth doesn’t mean the religion is wrong, it actually goes along with what the religions believe. That is unless you imagine God as a man Who would just be roaming the depths of space which is nonsensical anyway.

      What happens when we meet alien species we’re ignorant of? Theology is more properly understood as we continue to explore God’s handiwork. It’s not really a controversial thing.

      • Supernova

        I can only hope that most readers are objective enough to realize Poke poke splat does not represent all Atheists, just the ones who don’t know anything about science or religion.

        • inconspicuous detective

          yea, i think they do. i have a few atheist friends. the last thing they do is go around criticizing everyone else for their beliefs. heck even my girlfriend is an atheist, and we seem to get along fine so…

      • Patrick Starr

        Religion is already nonsensical every since humans acquired the knowledge of how to read and write. Religion has already set back scientific development by almost half a century.

        • Logan Cole Rieck

          Religion hasn’t set back scientific development by almost half a century, I’m not even sure where you’d get such a figure.

          Religion isn’t really nonsensical, logic points to a Creator Whom we understand as God, religion merely unveils Who God is and our participation with Him. No, by reason alone we can’t understand religion, hence faith. Such a thing has been well understood for over a thousand years.

          • Ghidoran

            “logic points to a Creator Whom we understand as God”

            No, it doesn’t. There is no logical explanation for God(s), they are by definition above logic.

          • Logan Cole Rieck

            Not quite. Reason, until relatively recently, was seen to lead towards the understanding of the necessity of God.

            Famously, St. Thomas Aquinas laid out his 5 reasonable proofs for God.

            http://web.mnstate.edu/gracyk/courses/web%20publishing/aquinasfiveways_argumentanalysis.htm

          • Ghidoran

            “Not quite. Reason, until relatively recently, was seen to lead towards the understanding of the necessity of God.”

            What exactly are you basing this on? Not to mention, just because it led towards a certain thought ‘until recently’, doesn’t make it any more valid. People thought human were created from dust and ash until very recently when Darwin proposed evolution. The fact is, there is no consensus whatsoever that logic dictates the existence of any creator being.

            Aquinas started from the position that god existed. Not that difficult to ‘prove’ he existed from that position. Not to mention Aquinas’ proofs have been debunked several times over.

          • inconspicuous detective

            question not related to the article: is your name in any way a reference to Ghidorah, of Godzilla and Mothra fame?

          • Ghidoran

            Yes.

          • inconspicuous detective

            hell. YES!

          • Logan Cole Rieck

            The Catholic Church, dating itself since the time of Christ, has found reason as an ally in finding out God. It is natural revelation that is then fully understood under divine revelation.

            St. Thomas’ proofs do not start from the point God exists, have you read the proofs? He was aiming to show why God exists, yes, but if Darwin, when trying to show that Evolution is evidently true, would offer logical proofs for it would it no longer be right simply because his intention was to show what he thought was right would it prove it invalid? The fact St. Thomas was blest to know God existed by faith before offering reasoning behind why doesn’t invalidate his logic.

            His proofs are usually “debunked” by bad logic.

          • Ghidoran

            “St. Thomas’ proofs do not start from the point God exists, have you read the proofs?”

            Yes, they do start from that position. Everything argument he makes leads him to the conclusion that ‘God’ is behind it all, even though the source could easily be attributed to Allah, or the Greek Pantheon, or aliens. They are not a proof of god whatsoever.

            “but if Darwin, when trying to show that Evolution is evidently true, would offer logical proofs for it would it no longer be right simply because his intention was to show what he thought was right would it prove it invalid?”

            Except you seem to have confused logic with science. Darwin, and millions of other scientists, did not prove evolution by logic. They “proved” it using the scientific method. Hypothesis, observation, experiments, analysis. Aquinas, and other theists, do not use science.

            “His proofs are usually “debunked” by bad logic.”

            Oh please, just because they disprove a 500 year old ‘hero’ of Christianity does not make them bad logic. Unless you can explain why the logic is bad using specific examples, your argument is null.

          • Logan Cole Rieck

            Yes, I’m aware they used it using evidence, but as you should know there are those who point out it cannot be truly scientifically observed on the scale of billions of years so logic would play a fundamental role in understanding evolution.

            http://vorpal.us/2007/10/the-five-ways-of-st-thomas-aquinas-are-all-dead-ends/

            For the first way they debunk it by saying light is a constant but they forget light still has a source (stars) that move them initially and that light can be slowed down and bent. And again that apparently relativity makes it wrong whereas an unmoved mover would have initially started off all things.

            For the second way: basically it’s “If God created the Big Bang then who created God” which isn’t quite a good rebuttal as Divine Revelation teaches us of God’s eternity. A faith issue.

            The third way: basically that string theory postulates an eternal universe of sorts that goes through cycles. Unfortunately this can’t be proved at all but is an educated guess at best.

            For the fourth way: basically that a Primary Substance will detoriate. The fact is though that an object that can put into motion all Creation would more likely not be affected by natural things because it is not natural but supernatural.

          • Ghidoran

            “Yes, I’m aware they used it using evidence, but as you should know there are those who point out it cannot be truly scientifically observed on the scale of billions of years so logic would play a fundamental role in understanding evolution.”

            No, it’s not. You clearly have no understanding of evolution or the science behind it. Just because we cannot directly observe it doesn’t mean we can’t observe fossils, DNA, and a host of other methods. Pure logic has never been a part of the theory of evolution, or any scientific theory.

            Also, you can’t just link one site debating one counterargument and say all counterarguments are bad logic. As I already said, half of those proofs could be attributed to aliens. None of it directly proves God. Not to mention, all of those arguments use circular logic. “God exists because this. This proves God’s existence because God is supernatural. repeat ad nausum.” In fact calling it a logical proof isn’t even accurate because it often invokes the ‘supernatural’ or ‘faith’ arguments, which by definition are illogical, and hence, not proofs.

          • Logan Cole Rieck

            If you don’t think logic would play a proper role in showing evolution’s truth then you evidently haven’t seen enough creationist “arguments” that use all the evidences of evolution either against it or for themselves. Not everyone operates at the same thinking capacity and need different ways of understanding things.

            I’m really not sure how these could be attributed to aliens.

            By reason something that begins, initiates, or creates all things natural would be above-natural or supernatural. The proofs aren’t quite circular logic at all.

          • Ghidoran

            Show me one example of the theory of evolution that uses only logic and no physical evidence.

            “I’m really not sure how these could be attributed to aliens.”

            Really, you don’t? What if there was an alien that was omnipotent and omniscient, eternal, and created the universe?

            “By reason something that begins, initiates, or creates all things natural would be above-natural or supernatural. The proofs aren’t quite circular logic at all.”

            So, you’re going to introduce something that by definition is above whatever rules exist, and claim that by logic it exists.

            I could say there exists a giant turtle that got bored one day and created the universe. All of Aquinas’s argument apply equally well to the turtle. Are you suggesting that, by proving God, he also proved the existence of my turtle?

          • Logan Cole Rieck

            I never said to prove evolution by logic alone, just that it helps in understanding.

            How would an alien become omnipotent, omniscient, and other such godly attributes?

            How would a turtle begin a universe? A turtle is finite and limited and cannot possibly have the attributes necessitated of a Creator-God. No, St. Thomas didn’t prove the existence of your turtle.

            And, frankly, I’m done with this conversation because it’s descended into silliness and no intention of an actual understanding such as whenever a Creator-turtle/Giant Spaghetti Monster/Invisible Pink Unicorn is mentioned.

          • Ghidoran

            “How would an alien become omnipotent, omniscient, and other such godly attributes?”

            Really? You can believe in a creator god that has these qualities, but an alien having them is baffling?

            What about other gods? Does Aquinas not prove Zeus, Ra, Odin, Quetzalcoatl, Vishnu as well?

            It really is amazing how theists are so eager to believe in THEIR own god, and yet when someone suggests another equally likely force (alien, physics, even other gods), it’s suddenly too unrealistic and crazy.

          • Logan Cole Rieck

            That didn’t answer my question of how a finite being could somehow gain omnipotence, omniscience, etc. It’s ridiculous because it’s unrealistic that a finite being could have infinite attributes. It’s quite different from a Creator-God.

            How is Zeus proven? His mythology even says he didn’t create the world. Other gods aren’t perfect and don’t possess a complete philosophical goodness and perfect attributes. It baffles me how atheists compare the old mythological gods to the Abrahamic God because of how dissimilar they are.

            Take your haughtiness elsewhere, please.

          • Carlos Fantastico

            You’re assuming all who don’t agree with your religion are atheist why is that? Beside I haven’t seen a single proof of any gods even existing wether old or modern.

          • Logan Cole Rieck

            How am I assuming all who don’t agree with my religion are atheists, especially since I said the “Abrahamic God” instead of Christian God. The former covers multiple religions.

            St. Thomas Aquinas’ proofs for God are good reasons.

          • Miki

            Hey, how about you stop telling people their religion isn’t real? You believe what you want and let other people believe what they want. Thats great, I’m Omnist so I don’t give a shit what your religion is cause I believe it too. But the moment you start telling other people that their religion is fake or wrong, thats the moment you immediately become a douchebag full of dicks.

          • GerbilActs17

            This reminds me of my Geometry class in high school.

          • 1DireWolf

            “Nothing exists
            prior to itself.
            Therefore nothing
            is the efficient cause of itself.”

            So, god didn’t exist prior to itself and is not the efficient cause of itself. So what existed before god and what created god?

          • Logan Cole Rieck

            By natural reason we understand the existence of God. By divine revelation we understand He is eternal.

            There can nothing be found out more by natural reason because after understanding something above-nature or supernatural created all that is then natural reason can no longer be used to understand past its limitations into that which is above nature, such as a Creator’s creator or other hypothetical things.

          • Garu Derota

            “merely unveils Who God is”? do you realize the silliness of this sentence?

          • Logan Cole Rieck

            To nonbelievers, yes. But that is what religion basically is.

          • Carlos Fantastico

            You are just forcing your religious ideas on people now….

          • Logan Cole Rieck

            How so?

          • Carlos Fantastico

            Scroll up… or you forgot you replied to every single “atheist” that wrote a comment on this topic.

          • Logan Cole Rieck

            So wouldn’t that be me defending the faith and not forcing? I don’t quite have a sword and gun against these people to accept my views, merely rebuttals.

          • Natasha

            Really?! If people that have no belief in a God, like myself, can give their opinion, then he certainly can. I find him to be quite courteous and intelligent. He replied to people without any malice.

          • Retro_Smoke

            This is how it starts.

        • GerbilActs17

          well, neither does a starfish that is best friends with a sponge and a Texan squirrel…

        • KH

          I think you meant to say half a millennium.

      • Garu Derota

        The reason for religion is wrong is because it implies that some “special” people pretend they know god’s will. This is not only plain ridiculous and insulting: the fact that those who adhere to said religion obey to those “special” people is the root of all evil mankind has faced during history.

        • Logan Cole Rieck

          The root of all evil? Please, those who lust after power and retaining it in some form or another is the reason for evil. This religious or not as the 20th century should plainly show you.

          • Retro_Smoke

            Bro, you’re awesome. Never have I seen someone keep a decent composure and patience while debating an atheist. Atheists tend to come off as very arrogant and disrespectful so it’s hard for anyone to really not wanna go insane and head-but their keyboard, but I sensed a being of calmness through your replies.

            Also, thanks for referencing that website.

          • Logan Cole Rieck

            Well, I thank you for the compliment, friend.

          • Lisa 39

            I’m impressed also, some of these discussions get heated, awesome job knowing when to walk away from a conversation also 🙂

          • Garu Derota

            you’re quite wrong sir. I am not atheist. people quite often mistake religion with god. I can’t say anything about any god (aside the fact that I am not interested in it). what I deeply hate with my heart is RELIGION. my point is that every religion is fake because it implies that some people knows what god wants, and the other must blindly obey their words. but in no way any man can know what any god wants. old religious books, written to appeal primitive ignorants, have been manipulated through centuries just to control masses. and what I hate is that people just want that: being told what to do, giving up their thinking. and as I believe that our thinking is what makes us human, I cannot but hate this immense, everlasting deception.

          • Garu Derota

            religion is the ultimate power because even money can’t buy everything. you can’t buy a suicide bomber into killing dozens of innocents. but religion can do it for free.

      • Carlos Fantastico

        That’s just as ignorant as it can get.

    • Supernova

      “proof of no god in space” – You would win the Nobel as soon as you publish the “proof”, because no one else has. Science does not claim to provide “proof”, but rather “evidence”.
      Looking forward to your testable, unifying hypothesis regarding evidence of the absence of God.

      • Garu Derota

        there is no need for “evidence” about the existence of a god, as much as there has to be abut the existence of anything else totally made up by men.

      • 1DireWolf

        It is the responsibility of the person/persons making the claim of god’s existence to provide proof. It is not possible to prove a negative. I could say “There is a flock of pink seagulls flying in the skies of Pluto. Prove that there isn’t.” Just because you cannot prove me wrong does not make me right.

      • Shahrukh Aziz

        If it’s for the Nobel Prize, you would HAVE to read my whole post no matter how long it is :P.

        Alright, so here it is:

        THINGS that begin to exist (or come into being), were either:
        1. Created or brought into being from nothing
        2. Self caused or self created
        3. Created or brought into being by something else that began to exist
        4. Created or brought into being by a non-created or un-caused entity

        Now, this brings us to the argument that did the universe actually began to exist from a point.

        Some philosophers such as Bertrand Russell argued that the universe is eternal, meaning it has no beginning and it will never end. However if we think about this we will conclude that this position is irrational. If the universe never had a beginning it means there must be an infinite history of past events. Yet does an actual infinite exist in the real world? Is it possible?

        The concept of the actual infinite cannot be exported into the real world, because it leads to contradictions and doesn’t make sense. Let’s take the following examples to illustrate this point:

        1. Say you have an infinite number of balls, if I take 2 balls away, how many do you have left? Infinity. Does that make sense? Well, there should be two less than infinity, and if there is, then we should be able to count how many balls you have. But this is impossible, because the infinite is just an idea and doesn’t exist in the real world. In light of this fact the famous German mathematician David Hilbert said,

        “The infinite is nowhere to be found in reality. It neither exists in nature nor provides a legitimate basis for rational thought…the role that remains for the infinite to play is solely that of an idea.”

        2. Imagine you are a soldier ready to fire a gun, but before you shoot you have to ask permission for the soldier behind you, but he has to do the same, and it goes on for infinity. Will you ever shoot? No you wouldn’t. This highlights, the absurdity of an infinite regress and this applies to events to. Therefore, there cannot be an infinite history of past events.

        3. Take the distance between two points, one may argue that you can subdivide the distance into infinite parts, but you will always be subdividing and never actually reach the ‘infinitieth’ part! So in reality the infinite is potential and can never be actualised. Similarly the ancient Greek Philosopher Aristotle explained,

        “…the infinite is potential, never actual: the number of parts that can be taken always surpasses any assigned number.”

        So if we refer back to an infinite history of past events we can conclude, since events are not just ideas they are real, the number of past events cannot be infinite. Therefore the universe must be finite, in other words the cosmos had a beginning.

        Astrophysical evidence

        The ‘Big Bang’ is the prevailing theory in cosmology. It was first formulated by the aid of some observations made by an American Astronomer called Edwin Hubble. While Hubble was trying to understand the size of the universe, he observed immensely luminous stars called Cepheid Variables and noticed something peculiar. He observed that some of these stars were further away than initially anticipated, and that their colour was slightly changed, shifting towards red, something now known as red-shift. From Hubble’s observations we were able conclude that everything seems to be moving away from each other, in other words the universe is effectively expanding. As time moves on the universe continues to expand, but if time is reversed, the theory is that everything starts to coalesce and come together. Coupled with the discovery of cosmic microwave background radiation, which is the radiation uniformly filling the observable universe, the idea of the ‘Big Bang’ was born. In other words the universe began at a cataclysmic event which created space-time and all matter in the universe. The physicist P. C. W. Davies explains,

        “If we extrapolate this prediction to its extreme, we reach a point when all distances in the universe have shrunk to zero. An initial cosmological singularity therefore forms a past temporal extremity to the universe. We cannot continue physical reasoning, or even the concept of spacetime, through such an extremity. For this reason most cosmologists think of the initial singularity as the beginning of the universe. On this view the big bang represents the creation event; the creation not only of all the matter and energy in the universe, but also of spacetime itself.”

        Although our understanding of what happened 10-43 seconds after the ‘Big Bang’ is highly speculative, astrophysicists now concede little doubt that this universe in which we live is the aftermath of the emergence and expansion of space-time, which occurred approximately 14 billion years ago. John Gribbin, an astrophysicist at Cambridge University, summarises the importance of ‘Big Bang’ cosmology,

        “…the discovery of the century, in cosmology at least, was without doubt the dramatic discovery made by Hubble, and confirmed by Einstein’s equations, that the Universe is not eternal, static, and unchanging.”

        Thus the ‘Big Bang’ model describes our universe as having a beginning a finite time ago. As Alex Vilenkin, one of the world’s leading theoretical cosmologists, writes,

        “It is said that an argument is what convinces reasonable men and a proof is what it takes to convince even an unreasonable man. With the proof now in place, cosmologists can no longer hide behind the possibility of a past-eternal universe. There is no escape, they have to face the problem of a cosmic beginning.”

        Other models have been proposed to try and explain away the obvious metaphysical questions that arise from a finite universe, for instance P.C.W. Davies questions,

        “What caused the big bang? . . . One might consider some supernatural force, some agency beyond space and time as being responsible for the big bang, or one might prefer to regard the big bang as an event without a cause. It seems to me that we don’t have too much choice. Either…something outside of the physical world…or…an event without a cause.”

        These models include the oscillating and vacuum fluctuation models. These models however still have principles that necessitate a beginning to the universe, in other words they are non-infinitely extendable into the past. Take the oscillating model as an example, this model maintains that if the gravitational pull of the mass of the universe was able to surmount the force of its expansion, then the expansion could be changed into a cosmic contraction or ‘Big Crunch’, and then into a new expansion, with the process continuing ad infinitum. However, there are a few issues with this model,

        1. Firstly there is nothing available in modern physics that would allow a universe that is collapsing to spring back into a new expanding universe.

        2. Secondly the mean mass density of the universe, derived from observational evidence, has shown that it is not enough to develop the required gravitational force to stop and reverse the expansion of the universe.

        3. Thirdly, the second law of thermodynamics (as discussed above) implies the finitude of the universe. According to the oscillation model, the entropy is conserved from cycle to cycle of the various oscillations of expansion, crunch and expansion. This has the effect of generating larger and longer oscillations. Therefore the thermodynamic property of this model implies a beginning, as the universe that we exist in has not suffered a heat death, or thermodynamic equilibrium.

        Since we have presented good evidence that the universe began to exist. We can now address the logically possible explanations the Qur’an presents as rationalisations of the origins of the universe.

        Created or brought into being from nothing

        We know the universe couldn’t have come out of nothing, because out of nothing, nothing comes! This is an undeniable philosophical principle, as P. J. Zwart in his publication About Time explains,

        “If there is anything we find inconceivable it is that something could arise from nothing.”

        A significant point to raise here is that nothingness should not be misconstrued as the nothingness that some physicists talk about. The term nothingness in this context refers to the absence of anything physical, in other words there is no pre-existing ‘stuff’. In light of the beginning of the universe, there was absolutely nothing before it began to exist, which is why physicists have explained the universe as having a space-time boundary.

        However, nothingness as defined by some physicists relates to the quantum vacuum. This is misleading because the quantum is something. In quantum theory the vacuum is a field of energy pervading the whole of the universe. In the word’s of John Polkinghorne, a philosopher of science, the quantum vacuum,

        “…is not ‘nothing’; it is a structured and highly active entity.”

        So, in context of some of the physicists’ definition, the universe could not have come from absolutely nothing, as the quantum vacuum is something. It is a sea of fluctuating energy, which is still part of the cosmos and it did not pre-exist the universe. This point leads us nicely to the next possible explanation.

        Self caused or self created

        Philosophically, the universe couldn’t have created itself because that would imply a paradox. It would mean that something can exist and not exist at the same time. The logical ends of this explanation are tantamount to saying that your mother gave birth to herself!

        Recently, the world renowned physicist, Stephen Hawking in his new book The Grand Design argues that the universe did self create due to the law of gravity,

        “Because there is a law like gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing…”

        But his view on nothing, as previously mentioned, is not really nothingness but is space filled with the quantum vacuum, which is part of the universe. In essence Hawking is telling us that the universe can create itself, but it has to already exist for it to do that!

        Concerning the law of gravity, well that is just a mathematical equation that describes nature. This law is part of the universe, which can also be described as a force of attraction between material objects. Therefore, how can this force exist before matter, in other words the universe?

        To assert that the universe created itself would be absurd and self refuting, because in order for something to create itself it would need to exist before it existed!

        Created or brought into being by something else that began to exist

        This is not an adequate explanation for the origins of the universe. The universe could not have owed its existence to another state of temporal physical existence. To maintain such an explanation would be equivalent of expanding the boundaries of the universe, as all things which have a temporal beginning exist within the universe. Also, if temporal physical existence owes itself to another temporal physical existence ad infinitum, it doesn’t explain anything. Rather it highlights the absurdity of an infinite regress, and that there has to be a beginning to the temporal physical states, which logically must be a non-physical state.

        Take the following example into consideration. If the universe, U1, followed another temporal cause U2, and U2 followed another temporal cause U3, and this went on ad infinitum we wouldn’t have the universe U1 in the first place. Think about it this way, when does U1 come into being? Only after U2 has come into being. When does U2 come into being? Only after U3 has come into being. This same problem will continue even if we go to infinity. If U1 depended on its coming into being on a chain of infinite temporal causes, U1 would never exist. As the Islamic Philosopher and Scholar Dr. Jaafar Idris writes,

        “There would be no series of actual causes, but only a series of non-existents, as Ibn Taymiyyah explained. The fact, however, is that there are existents around us; therefore, their ultimate cause must be something other than temporal causes.”

        Created or brought into being by a non-created or un-caused entity

        Since something cannot come from nothing, and self creation is absurd, including the unreasonableness of the aforementioned explanation, then the universe being created or brought into existence by an uncaused entity is the best explanation. This concept is intuitive but also agrees with reality: whatever begins to exist has a cause or a creator.

        This cause or creator must be uncaused due to the absurdity of an infinite regress, in other words an indefinite chain of causes. To illustrate this better, if the cause of the universe had a cause and that cause had a cause ad infinitum, then there wouldn’t be a universe to talk about in the first place (something we have already discussed above). For example, imagine if a Stock Trader on a trading floor at the Stock Exchange was not able to buy or sell his stocks or bonds before asking permission from the investor, and then this investor had to check with his, and this went on forever, would the Stock Trader every buy or sell his stocks or bonds? The answer is no. In similar light if we apply this to the universe we would have to posit an uncaused cause due to this rational necessity. The Qur’an confirms the uncreatedness of the creator, God,

        “He neither begets nor is born.” Qur’an 112:3

        The cause or creator for the universe must be a single cause for several reasons. An attractive argument to substantiate this claim includes the use of the rational principle called Occam’s razor. In philosophical terms the principle enjoins that we do not multiply entities beyond necessity. What this basically means is that we should stick to explanations that do not create more questions than it answers. In the context of the cause for the universe we have no evidence to claim multiplicity, in other words more than one. The Qur’an affirms the Oneness of the creator,

        “Say: He is God, [who is] One.” Qur’an 112:1

        However some philosophers and scientists claim: why doesn’t the cause be the universe itself? Why can’t the cause stop at the universe? Well, the problem with these claims is that they would imply that the universe created itself, which we have already discussed, is absurd. Additionally, we have good reasons to postulate a cause for the universe because the universe began to exist, and what begins to exist has a cause.

        Our argument thus far allows us to conclude that this cause or creator must be non contingent meaning that its existence is dependent on nothing but itself. If it were contingent it would be one more effect in the chain of causes. The Qur’an verifies this,

        “God is Independent of (all) creatures.” Qur’an 3:97

        The cause or creator must also be transcendent, this means that the cause of the universe must exist outside of and apart from the universe. Since this being exists apart from the universe it must be non-physical or immaterial, if it was material then it would be part of the universe. This is confirmed in the Qur’an,

        “There is nothing like unto Him, and He is the Hearing, the Seeing” Qur’an 42:11

        This cause must have the power to create the universe, without this ability nothing could be created. The Qur’an testifies to God’s power,

        “Certainly, God has power over all things.” Qur’an 2:20

        This cause must have a will, because it wouldn’t be able to create the universe without one. What this means is that it must have a will so the power to create could be acted on. The Qur’an refers to God as having a will in many places, for instance,

        “And God guides whom He wills to a straight path.” Qur’an 2:213

        In summary, we have concluded what the Qur’an concluded over 1400 years ago, that a creator for the universe exists, that is one, has a will, is powerful, uncaused, immaterial and eternal.

        Quantum Physics Undermines the Argument

        A common contention to the central argument made in this essay is that the assumption – whatever begins to exist has a cause – is false. This is due to the apparent observations in the quantum vacuum that sub-atomic events behave spontaneously without any causes. In light of this common contention there are some good objections we can raise:

        1. Firstly, the view that some events just happen, also known as indeterminism, for no reason at all is impossible to prove conclusively. Our inability to identify a cause does not necessarily mean that there is no cause.

        2. Secondly, there are deterministic perspectives adopted by physicists to explain these so-called spontaneous sub-atomic events. For instance in the 1950s David Bohm showed there was an alternative formulation of quantum theory that is fully deterministic in its basic structure.Commenting on Bohm’s theory Polkinghorne explains,

        “In Bohm’s theory there are particles which are as unproblematically objective and deterministic in their behaviour as Sir Isaac Newton himself might have wished them to be. However, there is also a hidden wave, encoding information about the whole environment. It is not itself directly observable, but it influences in a subtle and highly sensitive manner the motions of the particles in just such a way as to induce the experimentally observed probabilistic effects.”

        What this means is that the apparent indeterminism present at the quantum level can be explained deterministically by this hidden wave that produces observed indeterministic or probabilistic effects.

        However, since these two interpretations of quantum theory are empirically equivalent the choice between them will not be based on a scientific decision but on a metaphysical one. This leads to the philosophical objection to this contention.

        3. Thirdly, from a philosophical perspective it is extremely difficult for these physicists (who adopt an indeterministic explanation of sub-atomic events) to justify their conclusions. This is because without the concept of causality we will not have the mental framework to understand our observations and experiences. In philosophical terms causality is a priori, which means knowledge we have independent of any experience. We know causality is true because we bring it to all our experience, rather than our experience bringing it to us. It is like wearing yellow-tinted glasses, everything looks yellow not because of anything out there in the world, but because of the glasses through which we are looking at everything. Take the following example into consideration; imagine you are looking at the White House in Washington DC. Your eyes may wonder to the door, across the pillars, then to the roof and finally over to the front lawn. Now contrast this to another experience, you are on the river Thames in London and you see a boat floating past. What dictates the order in which you had these experiences? When you looked at the White House you had a choice to see the door first and then the pillars and so on. However, with the boat you had no choice as the front of the boat was the first to appear.

        The point to take here is that you would not have been able to make the distinction that some experiences are ordered by yourself and others are ordered independently, unless we had the concept of causality. In absence of causality our experience would be very different from the way it is. It would be a single sequence of experiences only: one thing after another. So to accept that sub-atomic events do not correspond with causality would be tantamount of denying our own experience!

        Peace! 🙂

        • Lisa 39

          Well i just read the whole thing, i’m pretty sure my brain exploded or at least sprung a leak, it sounds to me like you just proved that god does exist. Please don’t tell me to read it again, lol

    • Patriotic Dane

      Although I don’t believe in god myself, space is extremely vast and just because you don’t see god while orbiting Earth that doesn’t mean that god isn’t real, heaven might be in a Nebula or on another planet. Besides the universe is huge and who knows, maybe god is real and he also created intelligent life on other planets.

      • Culture Vulture

        It reminds me of Star Trek Deep Space Nine (activate full nerd mode now..) In that series there is a planet (Bajor) that has a wormhole nearby that is inhabited by ultra-advanced beings that exist outside of space and time. The Bajoran people see them as God’s because they have stepped in from time to time to interfere with Bajoran events… Yes I know that it is just a science fiction show, but it was a neat idea, and reminded me of what you wrote.

        • Lisa 39

          Bravo! I’m clapping for that!

          • Culture Vulture

            Good, I’m glad somebody enjoys a little DS9 reference.

          • Lisa 39

            I’m an original star trek woman but i’ve seen a few episodes of all the newer treks, i like how the episode you described fits into the conversation!

          • Culture Vulture

            Well i can recommend DS9. It’s a good watch. Live long and prosper..

          • Lisa 39

            I think i’ll see if i can find it on netflix since you recommend it, thank you cv, you live long and prosper also! Quick question for you, have you ever played donkey kong country on super nes?

          • Culture Vulture

            I believe DS9 is on Netflix.. And yes I played it, a long time ago. Why?

          • Lisa 39

            There’s a level called vulture culture, i thought maybe you reversed it for your name, which is cool btw 🙂

          • Culture Vulture

            I actually got it from a song by the Klaxons which in turn was referencing Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon.

          • Lisa 39

            I don’t think i’ve heard any of that, i’ll ask my kids, i’m sure they’ll know and hook me up! Thank you cv, now i want to play donkey kong lol

      • Carlos Fantastico

        Sounds to me like you watch a lot of movies… heaven in a nebula?

        • Culture Vulture

          The Fountain anyone??

        • Patriotic Dane

          Nah, I just think that nebula’s look like heaven,besides, i’m not religious anyway…

          • Carlos Fantastico

            lol didn’t get joke at first. I can see the resemblance now. I’m looking at the Orions’ nebula 🙂

          • Patriotic Dane

            Yeah they are pretty magical…

          • Michael Hutchinson

            They might look like heaven from our viewpoint on Earth… But knowing what they are – vast expanses of gas and dust light years across where new stars are formed and born – only a simpleton would actually think “oh its heaven!” just because it looks like it. No offence.

    • Culture Vulture

      One of the trickiest problems for a religious scientist is finding some way to reconcile the two fields. Unfortunately, there is a preconceived notion that science and religion counteract each other, that science is just the abode of the faithless who feel the need to logically demonstrate that which religious people take on faith. The problems with religion and science comes from the fact that misguided practitioners of both fields assert their beliefs on the practitioners of the opposite field. It is illogical to state that since physics has not proven the existence of God, that a supreme being can not possibly exist at any point in spacetime. Likewise, it is irrational for a religious individual to state that the Big Bang (for example) is false (to say nothing of asserting that the theory is atheistic) when the holy texts of various religions are completely uninterested in the physical problems of creationism. Science provides the “how” and “what” of our universe where religion provides the “who” and “why”. Without either, our understanding of the universe and our place in it would be utterly incomplete.

      • Garu Derota

        I’m sorry, but your “who” and “why” are badly placed questions. everything is perfectly complete without the need of any god. maybe some weak soul need some replacement for their father figure when they grow up. but this is essentially pathetic.

        • inconspicuous detective

          exhibit A of why things just don’t work. lemme know when you have managed to get the point that culture vulture is going for.

        • 1DireWolf

          What gets me is that god seems to have the same bad traits and human fallacies as men do. Jealousy, insecurity, hatred, vengeance, megalomania,etc. To me it is clear that rather man is made in god’s image, god is made in man’s image.

        • Culture Vulture

          Maybe you can answer me a question, and I mean this in full friendship, I am actually interested in your response. Why do you see the need to attack every religious comment on this thread? If somebody wants to believe that there is a Big Man in the sky that will bring them to a nice place if they do good things, why is that so offensive that you feel the need to belittle everybody who believes in that?

          • inconspicuous detective

            hello brother. firstly, because i’ve seen direwolf comment around i can tell ya that he doesn’t just comment with hostility to every religious support comment out there.

            but i think i can answer your question generally. there is a (very) small minority of people who are not atheists but anti – theists. i first heard this term several months ago and checked it out. it’s legit. there are a number of atheists you deal with on this site who you probably didn’t even know were atheist, and visa versa when it comes to theism.

            while i agree with you that some people take this way too far, and carry themselves with snobbery of the worst kind, the fact is nobody knows where we came from or why. now, you can have faith in that you do know, but calling people on it and citing faith is a poor move. equally poor as citing the lack proof of something as full proof that it doesn’t exist. we do this in cases with missing persons, and call it death in absentia, yet sometimes these people turn back up; point being both arguments are flawed and cannot make up the difference to compensate for it.

            what i’m getting as is, you’re cool to believe whatever you want and so is anyone else, and i’d gladly take on anyone who’s openly hostile about EITHER belief system (and have on this site), but don’t take it to heart.

          • Culture Vulture

            Yeah I understand. Thanks for the comment.
            I probably phrased it wrong, but I really was just wondering what makes an atheist so angry about religion. It’s really interesting to me whenever I talk to atheists. I am always interested in why people believe what they do, atheist or theist. But yeah, I’ll just have to be more careful next time. I don’t mean to start an argument with anybody since everybody has the freewill to believe whatever they’d like to believe. People who get angry at atheist are wrong and vice versa.

          • inconspicuous detective

            yea it is weird but you can’t win with everyone. for instance, my mum’s husband’s mum was over for their wedding last year and she comes from a pretty strict christian town in ohio. alright, all’s well so far right? there was one nagging issue though: she REFUSED to call my girlfriend a girlfriend and REFUSED to acknowledge the validity of the relationship. our age difference to her was too much and i could only be a friend while she dated other boys and offer advice, but otherwise she and i were in the wrong. that’s interacting with the theist side of things — point being we have our fair share of really strict people on our own side of the aisle. too often people just blame “atheists” for being jerks and yea some are, but most of them don’t affiliate anti theists with themselves any more than WBC is considered a good group of christians. rather than being careful, just be yourself about what you think. if people don’t wanna deal with that i guess it’s their loss.

          • Culture Vulture

            Yeah and that’s part of the problem. If religious people would just cool their jets sometimes and not be crazed zealots (not saying that your mom’s husband’s mom is crazed, don’t misunderstand me) we would have a lot more cooperation and a better dialogue between the two sides. Close-mindedness is bad wherever it comes from. There are lots of religious people that I can’t stand being around because they can’t grasp that the world has a lot to offer outside of the confines of their little state of mind. That’s why I deleted my previous comment. No need to start an argument right?

          • inconspicuous detective

            XD

            she is crazy. don’t worry. and yea i mean the comment is there but you’ve redeemed it if you want.

          • Culture Vulture

            Yeah I guess I’ll just leave it.. It was cheap and manipulative though, so I’d rather just let it fade away into obscurity..

          • inconspicuous detective

            never back down from what you said or say. don’t hide it. stand by it.

          • Michael Hutchinson

            If people were still wandering around claiming the Earth was flat and truly believing in it, we’d think they were crazy… As its a centuries old idea that there is no room for in modern society. But if those people became politicians, teachers, and world leaders, and start using their age old beliefs to change our modern society, then it becomes an issue doesn’t it! That, and also the fact that religion is the biggest cause of war and terrorism in the history of mankind! The world is better off without it now.

          • Lisa 39

            I’m giving you 10 more upvotes, you are just so damn smart and sensible sometimes.

          • inconspicuous detective

            excellent. too bad it only happens sometimes 😛

            we all have our moments though! 😀

          • Garu Derota

            because science was the last refuge from religion mankind had. and reading this garbage is extremely painful. I see religion is winning again its battle against humanity. And I cannot but hate everyone who gives up his soul and trade it for a comfortable, numb belief.

      • Chaos

        I have posted this before but sure many have not seen it, this is my theory that I have casually come up with since 1997 and it simply reconciles both sides, I feel.

        What if I told you that evolution and creationism can both exist simultaneously and symbiotically?

        1st off let me say that what I am about to present is not meant to
        augment nor diminish anyone elses ideas or beliefs but to open your mind
        to the possibility that there is room for all ideas and beliefs to
        coexist without having to be right or wrong, its simply an idea…..”I
        think it’s better to have ideas. You can change an idea. Changing a belief is trickier…”-Rufus

        So….let us begin

        Evolution does not need alot of explaining as most folks understand
        that or at least have an idea of what it is so lets look at religion
        first up, who are the main proponents of creationism. For a long time
        religions primary produced product is faith but religion and faith are
        NOT mutually exclusive, faith being defined as something that cannot for
        certain be proven but is accepted due to a belief in ‘something’ not
        necessarily a higher power as such for instance I have faith in the fact
        that my plan over the next 5 years will put myself into a position in
        life for which I have been aiming. There is no proof that it will work,
        there is no evidence to suggest that it can or cannot but I have faith
        in myself, in my plan.

        So now that we have separated faith from
        religion, lets look at some parts of religion which I believe has been
        messed up, diluted or simply abused by those in power. The bible states
        that god is within man, not one man or a group of men but all men, now
        lets extend this. The same stuff that makes up our bodies, the animals,
        the earth makes up the entire universe around us, as far as we know
        every single thing in existence is made of the same stuff so therefor if
        god is within man then god must be in the animals, the earth and every
        single thing in the universe(remember god created us in his image so if a
        higher power created us, he created us from the same stuff that he and
        everything is made of, this means that the universe IS god and
        everything in it is god or at the least a part of god, not the bearded
        man in the sky kind but in the essence of everything kind.

        Now
        imagine for a moment your cruising through your life, you come across a
        problem that must be overcome and the solution(in simple terms) is that
        you identify the problem, you work out a solution and you get a result.
        So lets them put this in a grand scale. If we are all made up of the
        universe and a part of the universe/god is within all of us, are we not
        the physical manifestation of the universe/god trying to figure itself
        out just the same as you who tried to figure out the problem you faced
        in your own life. No two lives or experiences are the same and there for
        each experience and perspective brings solutions and potentially more
        questions for us to answer.

        Evolution is the evolution of the
        universe/god as well as our own or the evolution of the species that
        brought us to this point, perhaps mass extinction events and
        evolutionary dead ends are the points similar to which you may come
        across and problem or situation in life in which you can do no more to
        solve, you can learn no more from it, kinda like when your in a
        relationship and you begin fighting and the fighting keep going and
        might lead to a realization that you can do no more there, but none the
        less you have learned things and so you break up and move on. Mass
        exiction and evolutionary dead ends are exactly the same. so the plan is
        thrown out and started again while the ‘lessons learned” are kept like
        the survival of mammals once the dinosaurs time was over which
        eventually lead to our rise.

        I am not saying the universe is
        omnipotent per say but more like a grand scale version of you and I just
        trying to make its way and figure itself out and figure out how to best
        proceed. Its all about perspective, from the perspective of the
        bacteria in your belly button, you are their universe and they are just
        trying to make their way in ‘their’ world as it is perceived, so its not
        that far a stretch to consider that we are all pieces of the universe
        just trying to make our way, from our perspective it is everything but a
        belly button bacteria has no need for science or religion or the grand
        scope of ‘our’ universe and in the grand scale of things we are the
        bacteria of the belly button of the universe.

        So putting all
        this together it is possible to consider that evolution is a tool, a
        purpose, a means to an end of creationism in which we all play our part
        in the evolution of an evolving creationist universe.

        • Culture Vulture

          This was a great idea. I’ve been actually thinking something along the lines of this for awhile. Not exactly, but similar. I am totally behind you in the fact that if we think about things enough we can see how both sides of the argument can exist if you think hard enough about it.
          Thanks for the intriguing and thought provoking ideas!

        • Lisa 39

          Damn, that’s awesome chaos, i was raised alternating between the bar and the church depending on who my mom was or wasn’t married to, i’m an assemblies of god protestant, i don’t have a home church or attend regularly anymore, mostly because i’m tired of hearing about everyone else, gays, fornicator’s, drunks, you name it, going to hell, o, i almost forgot atheists, i haven’t questioned my faith but i have been questioning what i believe god is, i have said some of the things you just said, just not as in depth and eloquently as you, i didn’t necessarily agree with every word but that could have been that deep religious root being tugged on when i wasn’t expecting it. If you write a book about this let me know, i’ll definitely by it.
          Side note for atheists and others, i never said that i think you’re going to hell, i’m tired of hearing it from others.

          • Lisa 39

            Or buy it, facepalm!

  • Jimmy

    What a waste of time. I’m not criticising them for following their religions but is it really so important they have to dick about with all that extra stuff? One things for sure, we’re not going to an Islamic colony in space because they’d spend too long figuring out how to pray than to actually get there.

    • GerbilActs17

      Will Catholic colonists on the Moon or Mars have to build a New Holy See- or just a generic Space Pope? I can see Scientologists turning into that cult from Dead Space…

      • Jimmy

        Is the Space Pope not reptilian?

    • AAAgentX

      The point of the article is that they’ve already figured it out.

      • Jimmy

        If you read the last bit again, you’ll see that it clearly says there a lot more issues to be resolved. All they’ve done is worked out a system for the ISS. They haven’t come close to working out a general system that could work on any planet.

  • Blaze

    There is no problem encountering alien life and believing God. God says there are many of his creations on earth and in the heaven
    Moreover astronaut dosent have to pray 5 times they can shorten there prayers and they can pray what ever direction they want and fasting is not compulsory for travelers people just tend to complicate the religion . That’s the problem we are facing with the so called Muslims in the modern world .

    • Garu Derota

      The problem is that the very moment aliens hear the religious person talking about “god”, he understand immediately how primitive is our race.

      • Logan Cole Rieck

        So you know what aliens think but others believing in God is absurd?

        • 1DireWolf

          Is that anymore absurd than people claiming to know what a god is thinking?

          • Joseph

            No one claimed to know what god was thinking. Are you hearing voices in your head or hallucinating comments that don’t exist?

          • Logan Cole Rieck

            Someone saying they know God’s own thoughts is either delusional or dishonest. His thoughts cannot be found out. That’s generally what the Abrahamic religions teach.

          • Joseph

            There’s not really any point in arguing. I only respond because I’ll probably have nothing better to do for the next week. I should find a better website. Most of the people that comment on here are trolls, racist, stupid, or any combination of the three. There are some decent people though.

      • Blaze

        Nature has taken some conscious dicision in course of evolution. U can see by looking at our IQ compare to others only intelligence can creat intelligence. if nurture is conscious and intelligent what u call it? Everything as start an end. Just we have to open our minds

      • GerbilActs17

        What if we come into Contact with ET Missionaries? What then?

        • Veronica Lowe

          if it’s the ET inquisition, we all just got a new religion, or dead.

    • Carlos Fantastico

      religion itself is the problem.

      • Chaos

        religion itself is not the problem only part, the largest problem is that most folks are bound by a system of right and wrong and they feel the need to put such things in a either box, the problem is that we cannot for the most part accept others beliefs without having to believe in them ourselves or prove our own perceptions and beliefs correct to reinforce them at the expense of others. Faith and religion are NOT mutually exclusive and that is where alot of the problem comes from when people believe that they are

  • Ryan

    Fascinating

  • Garu Derota

    Religious people should be banned from space. And Earth si in space, too.

  • Meems

    Interesting. I think it’s admirable that some people actually take their beliefs seriously enough not to drop them just because it would be more convenient.

  • Eoghan-Tony Dwyer

    What were backwards, small minded religious idiots doing in space. Aren’t they scared of offending God or sinning or something?

  • Nick Mulgrave

    The Universe is God.

  • Carlos Fantastico

    Just goes to show that religion doesn’t belong outer space.

  • Marozia

    I wonder what would’ve happened if they landed on the Moon? Would they pray there?
    Isn’t there something about if man landed on the Moon, Islam would end, or something like that?

  • Anthony Burroughs

    What gives anyone the right to deny the existence of God? Our universe is so complex and intriguing, if people want to believe in a higher power who the hell are you to mock them and say that religion is stupid? I think attitudes like that and atheism in general is so small-minded and idiotic. Agnostic people I can deal with but most atheists are just ignorant, rude and so close-minded.

  • Firham Abdat

    Actually, the “problem ” isn’t that much of a problem.

    In Islam, since the time of the Prophet Muhammad, ritual washing is done by way of tayammum when water is unavailable, scarce or just enough for drinking. Therefore, the problem of ritual washing without water isn’t an issue.

    Secondly, in Islam, when a Muslim cannot determine the direction of Mecca, he should just pray facing West. Also Muslims have been praying in moving trains and airplanes for decades. Therefore the issue of praying while not facing Mecca is an old issue which is not an issue at all.

    As far as where to face while praying in space,it is truly not a problem at all since Islam already made it clear that in times of necessity, facing the Kaaba is not necessary.

    Thirdly, as far as eating non-halal food is concerned in times of necessity, the Quran explicitly allows Muslims to eat of what is normally forbidden such as during famine, war or the absence of halal alternative as long as they are eaten just enough to prevent starvation.

    What Malaysia did in calling for a religious ruling was just fine-tuning the available answers for a new situation i.e praying in space.

    It is therefore not strange for Muslims actually to a – do ritual washing without water ; b – not facing towards Mecca when praying when facing that direction is impossible such as in a moving train ; and c – eating non-halal food when it is a necessity in order to prevent starvation.

  • jihadbob

    Alaha Snackbar praise be To.allaha snackbar

  • DesertSun59

    This is just one of the reasons why religion is incompatible with an advanced culture.

  • Leuprecht

    The comments on this are the weirdest things to read.
    “BUT WHAT IF WE MEET /ALIENS/ IN SPACE??? WHAT IF ALIENS ARE AS CLOSE-MINDED AS WE ARE AND CAN’T SEEM TO UNDERSTAND THAT OTHER PEOPLE HAVE DIFFERENT BELIEF SYSTEMS???” “won’t aliens think that we’re primitive because we believe in god still, even if we’re the people who fucking figured out space travel and were able to make contact” “(insert more weird islamophobic crap here that insinuates that we’re going to meet aliens on the international space station for whatever reason)”

  • Leuprecht

    Regardless, this is a REALLY interesting article. It’s really nice to know that there are people who are so devout in their beliefs that they’ll bring them into space.

  • Curse

    Why not just set the sunrise/sunset time to what it is at the Mecca? Seems like the simplest option to me

  • AAAgentX

    This is pretty good. I’m happy to know that some scholars have managed to fix the problem. If multiple launch teams are working, I’d say do it from one launch site. Or just use the timings in Makkah. And other moons have no significance in Islam. They shouldn’t affect anything.

  • Erkin Alp Güney

    >It is therefore not strange for Muslims actually to a – do ritual
    >washing without water ; b – not facing towards Mecca when
    >praying when facing that direction is impossible such as in a moving train ;
    >and c – eating non-halal food when it is a
    >necessity in order to prevent starvation.

    What is the object to use for tayammum in space? We use fine sandy ground and walls on Earth.

  • Almafuerte

    Here’s a fantastic idea: Leave your stupid superstitions on the ground!