Islam And The Goal Of World Domination by Joel Richardson

In order to understand Islam properly, one must understand the way that Islam understands itself. Islam views itself as the only true religion – indeed the only religion worthy to be practiced. As such Islam has as one of its goals, total world domination. Islam’s driving goal is to literally eradicate what it sees as the false and misplaced worship of all other religions. Until the day that everyone says, “none has the right to be worshipped other than Allah,” Islam will continue its fight against unbelievers and unbelieving nations. We have already thoroughly examined Islam’s vision of global domination through its eschatology, but the concept is not just a future idea that Muslims are waiting idly by for the Mahdi and the Islamic Jesus to accomplish for them. The texts and scholars of Islam teach that global domination is to be striven for by all Muslims at all times. The striving for Islam’s furtherance and its eventual total world domination is calledjihad. Indeed jihad (striving) is a basic requirement of all Muslims everywhere. It is an absolutely obligatory component of Islam.
Now, Muslim apologists and propagandists will be quick to argue here, that jihad is not about fighting for world domination. Some will make such misleading remarks as “jihad is merely about overcoming adversity.” Or they will point out that the “greater jihad” is a struggle against one’s self. While this inner struggle is a legitimate aspect of jihad, do not be deceived: The jihad that is obligatory for all Muslims to fight against one’s inner weaknesses in no way lessens the centrality of the demand of Islam upon all Muslims to wage jihad against the unbelieving world until Islam is supreme. This may include other forms of warfare such as in the intellectual or the political arenas, but wherever a Muslim engages in this fight, it is viewed as just that, a fight for the eventual global domination and universal supremacy of Islam.
The word Jihad stems from the Arabic root word J-H-D, which means “strive.” There are five types of jihad:
· Jihad al-nafs (striving against one’s inner self)
· Jihad al-Shaitan (striving against Satan)
· Jihad al-kuffaar (striving against the disbelievers)
· Jihad al-munafiqeen (striving against the hypocrites)
· Jihad al-faasiqeen (striving against corrupt Muslims)
As already stated, all five forms of jihad are obligatory for all Muslims. If you pay attention to the discussion of jihad in the media, you will find endless articles and claims by Muslims that misrepresent jihad as something other than what it really is. But as stated earlier, those who deny the central aspect of an outward jihad in Islam are either ignorant or purposefully lying. In fact, lying to hide or misrepresent the true nature of Islam to the unbelieving world is actually part and parcel of Islam’s method of carrying out jihad against non-Muslims. We will take a look at Islam’s doctrine of lying in the next chapter.
Despite what the advertisers of a nicer, more peaceful Islam say, Muhammad clearly made the claim that his commission was to fight against the unbelievers until they all submit to Islam and become worshippers of Allah. Since the time of Muhammad, global domination has been the goal of Islam.
Allah’s Apostle (Muhammad) said, “I have been ordered to fight the people till they say: ‘None has the right to be worshipped but Allah.’” 1
Fight those from among the people of the Book, who believe not in Allah, nor in the Last Day, nor hold as unlawful what Allah and His Messenger have declared to be unlawful, nor follow the true religion, until they pay the tax considering it a favour and acknowledge their subjection. -Surah 9:29 (Sher Ali)
O ye who believe! Fight those of the disbelievers who are near to you, and let them find harshness in you, and know that Allah is with those who keep their duty (unto Him). -Surah 9:123 (Pickthall)
Unquestionably, we see that Muhammad encouraged the spread of his religion by force. Now, one might argue that Christianity also has a goal of spreading its message throughout the earth as well. While this is true, Christianity does not have a goal of fighting against those who are not Christians, but rather presenting the gospel message, or “good news” to everyone in order that they have the option to either freely accept or likewise reject God’s offer of forgiveness and acceptance. As someone once said, “evangelism” (preaching the Christian message to non-Christians) is merely one beggar telling the other beggars where the food is.
While Jesus, in calling new believers to follow him and serve God makes the beautiful statement:
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. -Matthew 11:28-30
Muhammad calls his followers to something admittedly far more burdensome. With a tad of overt cajoling, he says:
Warfare is ordained for you, though it is hateful unto you; but it may happen that ye hate a thing which is good for you, and it may happen that ye love a thing which is bad for you. Allah knoweth, ye know not. -Surah 2:216 (Pickthall)
It would be quite easy to list several pages of verses from the Quran and Hadith that reflect this mindset of jihad and fighting against unbelievers for the express purpose of the furtherance of Islam. It is awfully difficult to take these verses out of context. Nevertheless, as I have said, many western Muslims will continue to make the claim that the Quranic verses that speak of jihad are only referring to overcoming adversity or defensive war, etc. Yet, as one Muslim commentator has said:
Don’t believe those moderate Muslims in the Western media who tell you that jihad means “overcoming adversity,” 2
Or as the popular Muslim author and teacher Muhammad Saeed al-Qahtani, states:
Jihad is an act of worship, it is one of the supreme forms of devotion to Allah… They say that Jihad is only for defense. This lie must be exposed…3
Rather than getting caught up in an in-house Islamic argument, we will rather simply examine the opinions of several prominent Muslim scholars throughout Islam’s history as well as the leaders and representatives of Islam in western countries today to see what Islam really teaches.

The Scholars on Jihad

Ibn Kathir lays out the prominent role of offensive jihad in Islam’s early days as he comments on Surah 9:123 above:
Allah commands the believers to fight the disbelievers, the closest in area to the Islamic state, then the farthest. This is why the Messenger of Allah started fighting the idolaters in the Arabian Peninsula. When he finished with them… He then started fighting the People of the Scriptures (Jews and Christians). After Muhammad’s death, his executor, friend, and Caliph, Abu Bakr, became the leader… On behalf of the Prophet , Abu Bakr… started preparing the Islamic armies to fight the Roman cross worshippers, and the Persian fire worshippers. By the blessing of his mission, Allah opened the lands for him and brought down Caesar and Kisra and those who obeyed them among the servants. Abu Bakr spent their treasures in the cause of Allah, just as the Messenger of Allah had foretold would happen. This mission (of world domination) continued after Abu Bakr at the hands of he whom Abu Bakr chose to be his successor… Umar bin Al-Khattab. With Umar, Allah humiliated the disbelievers, suppressed the tyrants and hypocrites, and opened the eastern and western parts of the world. The treasures of various countries were brought to Umar from near and far provinces, and he divided them according to the legitimate and accepted method. Umar then died… Then, the Companions among the Muslims… agreed to choose after Umar, Uthman bin Affan… During Uthman’s reign, Islam wore its widest garment and Allah’s unequivocal proof was established in various parts of the world over the necks of the servants. Islam appeared in the eastern and western parts of the world and Allah’s Word was elevated and His religion apparent. The pure religion reached its deepest aims against Allah’s enemies, and whenever Muslims overcame a community, they moved to the next one, and then the next one, crushing the tyranical evil doers. They did this in reverence to Allah’s statement, O you who believe! Fight those of the disbelievers who are close to you. 4
It is clear that Muhammad, and then his successors, Caliph Abu Bakr, Caliph Umar, and Caliph Uthman all attacked the surrounding nations offensively for the purpose of spreading Islam. These were not as is claimed by the historical revisionists, defensive wars. They were offensive wars whose goal was to force the victims to submit to Islam or be “crushed.”
Ibn Khaldun, the famous 14th century Islamic historian and philosopher in his classic and most notable work, the Muqaddimah says of jihad:
In the Muslim community, the holy war is a religious duty, because of the universalism of the (Muslim) mission and (the obligation to) convert everybody to Islam either by persuasion or by force. Therefore, the caliphate (spiritual), the royal (government and military) authority are united in Islam, so that the person in charge can devote the available strength to both of them at the same time. 5
In his book, “Jurisprudence in Muhammad’s Biography” the renowned Egyptian scholar from Al-Azhar university, Dr. Muhammad Sa’id Ramadan al-Buti writes that offensive and not defensive war is the “noblest Holy War” within Islam:
The Holy War (Islamic Jihad), as it is known in Islamic Jurisprudence, is basically an offensive war. This is the duty of Muslims in every age when the needed military power becomes available to them. This is the phase in which the meaning of Holy war has taken its final form. Thus the apostle of Allah said: ‘ I was commanded to fight the people until they believe in Allah and his messages… The concept of Holy War (Jihad) in Islam does not take into consideration whether defensive or an offensive war. Its goal is the exaltation of the Word of Allah and the construction of Islamic society and the establishment of Allah’s Kingdom on Earth regardless of the means. The means would be offensive warfare. In this case, it is the apex, the noblest Holy War. 6
According to the Encyclopedia of Islam, “the fight is obligatory even when the unbelievers have not started it.” 7 The concept of jihad in Islam is to literally attack unbelievers for the purpose of converting them to Islam “by persuasion or by force,” “even when they have not started it.”
Global Domination
Born in 1905, Mawlana Sayid Abul Ala Mawdudi was an Islamic scholar from the Indian subcontinent. His sermons (khutbat) and writings are world-renowned. He is viewed throughout the Islamic world as one of Islam’s greatest scholars. Here is what he had to say about Islam and global domination:
Islam is not a normal religion like the other religions in the world, and Muslim nations are not like normal nations. Muslim nations are very special because they have a command from Allah to rule the entire world and to be over every nation in the world. 8
Mawdudi explains Islam’s goals and purpose:
Islam is a revolutionary faith that comes to destroy any government made by man. Islam doesn’t look for a nation to be in a better condition than another nation. Islam doesn’t care about the land or who owns the land. The goal of Islam is to rule the entire world and submit all of mankind to the faith of Islam. Any nation or power that gets in the way of that goal, Islam will fight and destroy. In order to fulfill that goal, Islam can use every power available every way it can be used to bring worldwide revolution. This is Jihad. 9
We have seen what some of Islam’s most respected scholars have said about jihad and Islam’s goal of global domination. Their viewpoint is undeniably clear. But what do the more modern, western Muslim leaders have to say about this subject?
Modern Western Muslims on the Islamic Goal of World Domination
Aduallah al-Araby in his book The Islamization of America cites a very frightening letter from one Catholic Archbishop to the Pope. In this open letter to the Pope, the Archbishop of Izmir (Smyrna), Turkey, the Reverend Guiseppe Germano Barnardini, spoke of a recent gathering of Christians and Muslims for the purpose of interfaith dialogue. An excerpt from his letter recounts that during the meeting, an authoritative Muslim stood up and spoke very calmly and assuredly:
Thanks to your democratic laws, we will invade you, Thanks to our religious laws, we will dominate you. 10
If you go to the web site of almost any Mosque in the United States, you will invariably see a link to the Council on American-Islamic Relations. CAIR, as it is called, is a Washington based Islamic group that likes to present itself as a moderate Islamic civil rights group. “We are similar to a Muslim NAACP,” says spokesman Ibrahim Hooper. “Since its founding in 1994, CAIR has been garnering sizeable donations, invitations to the White House, respectful media citations and a serious hearing by corporations.” 11
Yet, according to Omar Ahmed, Chairman of the Board of CAIR:
Islam isn’t in America to be equal to any other faith, but to become dominant. The Quran should be the highest authority in America, and Islam the only accepted religion on earth.12
This is the same Omar Ahmed who tore into the Reverend Franklin Graham for calling Islam “an evil religion.” Mr. Ahmed addressed Graham in an open statement:
Learn more about Islam and Muslims before you repeat your erroneous and divisive statements about one of the three great Abrahamic religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Such statements only sow animosity and mistrust among Americans. As a religious leader you should instead work to rebuild our national foundation instead of trying to tear it down. 13
Perhaps Reverend Graham was more in touch with the true totalitarian doctrines of Islam than Mr. Ahmed realizes. Perhaps Mr. Graham had read Mr. Ahmed’s statement regarding Islam’s goal of domination in America and abroad when he made his statement. In any case, through these two statements, it is easy to see the double-speak that is displayed by Mr. Ahmed and many like him. When speaking privately to Muslims, Mr. Ahmed speaks of Islam as the only valid religion, with a goal to take over America, but when addressing the media, he speaks of “The three great Abrahamic religions,” and then he accuses Mr. Graham of being “divisive”.
Daniel Pipes, a scholar of militant Islam and director of the Middle East Forum, points out the case of one prominent American Muslim’s open aspirations to take over America. Pipes introduces one Isamil Al-Faruqi:
Ismail Al-Faruqi a Palestinian immigrant who founded the International Institute of Islamic Thought and taught for many years at Temple University in Philadelphia. “Nothing could be greater,” Al-Faruqi wrote in the early 1980’s, “than this youthful, vigorous, and rich continent [of North America] turning away from its past evil and marching forward under the banner of Allahu Akbar. [Allah is Great]” 14
In England, and throughout Europe, Islam has progressed in strength far beyond that of Islam in America. Therefore, in such a context, we see aggressive statements being made far more openly. As early as 1989, Europeans were shocked to see thousands of Muslims openly protest in the streets of Britian, France Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands carrying signs with the provocative slogan, “Islam – our religion today, your religion tomorrow.” 15
Dated June 15 1990, The Muslim Manifesto, published by the late Dr. Kalim Siddiqui, who was then the head of the Muslim Institute, (now the Muslim Parliament of Great Britain) on page 16 paragraph 7 states:
Jihad is a basic requirement of Islam and living in Britain or having British nationality by birth or naturalisation does not absolve the Muslim from his or her duty to participate in Jihad. 16
Dr. Siddiqui does not exclude Britain from the places where “armed struggle” is necessary. Jihad is obligatory everywhere. And as time has passed, the call to jihad in Europe has progressed to the point of being proclaimed openly in the streets by radical Muslim leaders. From the New York Times, April 26, 2004, we read:
The call to jihad is rising in the streets of Europe… In this former industrial town north of London, a small group of young Britons… say they would like to see Prime Minister Tony Blair dead or deposed and an Islamic flag hanging outside No. 10 Downing Street. They swear allegiance to Osama bin Laden and his goal of toppling Western democracies to establish an Islamic superstate under Shariah law, like Afghanistan under the Taliban. They call the Sept. 11 hijackers the “Magnificent 19” and regard the Madrid train bombings as a clever way to drive a wedge into Europe. Their leader, Sheik Omar Bakri Mohammad, spoke of his adherence to Osama bin Laden. If Europe fails to heed Mr. bin Laden’s offer of a truce — provided that all foreign troops are withdrawn from Iraq in three months — Muslims will no longer be restrained from attacking the Western countries that play host to them, the sheik said. “All Muslims of the West will be obliged,” he said, to “become his sword” in a new battle. Europeans take heed, he added, saying, “It is foolish to fight people who want death — that is what they are looking for”… And he warned Western leaders, “You may kill bin Laden, but the phenomenon, you cannot kill it — you cannot destroy it. Our Muslim brothers from abroad will come one day and conquer here and then we will live under Islam in dignity,” he said. 17
Dr. Siddiqui and Sheik Omar Bakri Mohammad are far from alone in their calls for radical Islamic jihad against their very homes in Europe:
Abu Hamza, the cleric accused of tutoring Richard Reid before he tried to blow up a Paris-to-Miami jetliner with explosives hidden in his shoe, urged a crowd of 200 outside his former Finsbury Park mosque to embrace death and the “culture of martyrdom.” 18
It is not surprising then, that in the war with Afghanistan, there were among the captives taken by American forces, at least three British citizens. Or in April of 2003, it was two British citizens who were responsible for a suicide bombing that killed three others at a café in Tel Aviv. And when Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl was beheaded in Pakistan, it was Omar Sheik Saeed, a well educated native of Britain, described as once being “a perfect Englishman”, who was transformed into a radical Muslim, eventually masterminding the kidnapping and videotaped beheading of Pearl. Should we really be surprised? Should we be surprised that Islam has this effect on people? If prominent Muslim leaders in Europe are openly praising Osama bin Laden, and calling for jihad and matyrdom, then why should we be surprised when impressionable young Muslims answer this call all over the world. While fifteen of the nineteen hijackers were Saudi Arabians in the last big attack, will the world be shocked when such an act is carried out by British Muslims? How would the West have reacted if the “black boxes” salvaged from the wreckage of the World Trade Center bombing had contained recordings of young men yelling “Allahu Akhbar!” in distinctly British or American accents?
Muslims in the West regularly refer to Islam as the “religion of peace”, yet this religion of peace is responsible for over 90 percent of all fighting presently in the world. Think about that fact. The vast majority of world terrorism, violence and war is religiously motivated by Islam.
There are about 400 recognized terrorist groups in the world. Over 90 percent of these are Islamist groups (radical Islamic terrorist groups). Over 90 percent of the current world fighting involves Islamist terror movements. 19
The endless goal of moderate Muslim apologists is to make the claim that the radical terrorist groups are not behaving in an Islamic way. While I have no doubt that many moderate Muslims have a strong disdain for the murderous behavior of many of the most violent groups, the terrorists are actually carrying out a very legitimate aspect of Islam as defined by Islam’s texts, scholars and representatives. They are indeed behaving in an Islamic way. They are behaving like Muhammad and his successors. While it is often said that the terrorists have “high jacked” Islam, judged by what Islam really teaches, it is in reality the so-called moderate Muslims who are trying to change the true teachings of Islam.
When we look at the growth rates of Islam combined with the concept of jihad in Islam, and the growing popularity of its most radical interpretation, even in the West, the concept of a future Islamo-fascist world dictator becomes a genuine possibility. Based on trends and statistics alone, it really doesn’t take a stretch to see the possibility of this reality within this century. The Bible teaches that in the future, a man will arise whose sole driving goal will be to achieve complete world domination through his political-military-religious empire. Islam has this very same goal inherent in its most core doctrines. And today, as we watch the call to jihad being trumpeted ever louder by radical Muslim leaders all over the world, Islam is slowly moving ever so much closer toward achieving that very goal.

Excerpt from Robert Ardrey, The Social Contract (Dell Publishing, NY, 1970) pp 92-94

[Hilton’s note: In 1970, anthropologist Robert Ardrey published a book with the same title as Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s 1762 landmark work, The Social Contract, which established the French philosopher as the father of the Romantic Movement. Ardrey’s text constitutes a logical counterpoint to Rousseau’s thesis about humankind by introducing the discoveries of ethology to the mix.]
From most ancient times we have recognized the demands of outward defense and internal order. They are closest to our evolutionary origins. In more recent times of technological advance we have recognized or begun to recognize the educational imperative, and the unarguable truth that the strongest and most durable of societies will be founded on maximum development of its members. But not even now do we begin to recognize the psychological function—to glimpse even dimly that as security is enhanced, so are boredom and anonymity. The very conquests of production which today promise to reduce material anxiety from human preoccupation have ignored or repressed other innate needs of the individual.
And we do not know what we are doing. There is no contemporary disaster to compare with the bankruptcy of human reason in its confrontation with the human being. The perceptions of Elizabethan theatre, almost five centuries ago, offered insights more profound concerning the nature of man.
In simple bewilderment we watch the spread of violence through what once were peaceful streets. We note in anguish the rise of crime unprecedented in America; and we blame it on our racial problems while ignoring its rise in lands where race is no factor; or we blame it on poverty, forgetting that in the 1930s, when poverty was a common possession, crime was endurable. Earnestly we grope for clues to explain the revolt of the young, the persuasions of alcoholism, hallucinatory drugs, pornography. Explanations become dust even as we touch them. Yet why should such a simple explanation elude our reason?
The hungry psyche has replaced the hungry belly.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau at the beginning of The Confessions wrote, “I am made unlike anyone I have ever met; I will even venture to say that I am like no one in the whole world. I may be no better, but at least I am different. Whether nature did well or ill in breaking the mould in which she formed me, is a question which can only be resolved after the reading of my book.”
That all men are different; that nature, through sexual recombination, breaks every mould in which men are cast: neither comment detracts from a mad night’s accident that presented to mankind a Rousseau.

Excerpt from Robert Ardrey, The Social Contract (Dell Publishing, NY, 1970) pp 95-98

[Hilton’s note: In 1970, anthropologist Robert Ardrey published a book with the same title as Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s 1762 landmark work, The Social Contract, which established the French philosopher as the father of the Romantic Movement. Ardrey’s text constitutes a logical counterpoint to Rousseau’s thesis about humankind by introducing the discoveries of ethology to the mix.]
When Dobzhansky writes, “The philosophy of modern democracies, of Western and eastern varieties as well, is the doctrine of equality, natural goodness, and the limitless perfectibility of man,” with a certain reservation all is purest Rousseau. Perfectibility was to be the contribution of the nineteenth century. But as the image of God may be viewed from a thousand angles, so the image of Rousseau inhabits our day.
And the image may well inspire the future as well. Should any doubt it, they have only to read a roaring summation by the Durants:
“First of all, of course, he was the mother of the Romantic movement…But what shall we mean by the Romantic movement? The rebellion of feeling against reason, of instinct against intellect, of sentiment against object, of solitude against society, of myth and legend against history, … of emotional expression against conventional restraints, of individual freedom against social order, of youth against authority, of democracy against aristocracy, of man against state.”
The Durants’ catalogue of revolt, one image of Rousseau, forms a useful checklist for measuring his reincarnation in the spirit of the contemporary young. With the ebb of the Romantic tide many an idol was carried out to sea, never, we thought, to be seen again. But with the tide’s new flow we watch the same old breakers crashing on the same old beaches.
Such a spirit as the Durants record stemmed largely from his earlier work, Discourse on Inequality, often known as the Second Discourse, which he published in 1755. In it he analyzed primal men as equal and good, the coming of property rights as the source of inequality, and society as the final instrument of ruin created to perpetuate inequality. In 1762 he presented The Social Contract as the revolutionary society in which, property abolished, individuals surrender all sovereignty to “the general will,” thus regaining as fully as possible the amity and equality of the origins. The principle was to reappear as the mystique, if not the reality, of the totalitarian state.
Rousseau’s work appeared over a century before Darwin’s Descent of Man, whereas mine appears just a century afterward. And if I have taken his title and dedicated this work to his memory, it is to throw into sharpest relief just what the natural sciences have brought to our understanding of man and the group. In many a way his mind was remarkably modern. He saw man, as I have mentioned, as a portion of nature. He looked to human origins for better understanding of the human outcome. From many a hint one may gather that he pondered over the way of the animal as of significance to the way of man, and one must bow to a visionary who centuries before the coming of ethology glimpsed a truth. And finally one must recognize that Rousseau’s objective, no less nor more than my own, looked to nature and natural law for human solutions.
In a sense he asked all the right questions. But he asked them too soon. Without the theory of evolution to guide him, without the past century’s assimilation of proven conclusions in the natural sciences, and in particular without the explosion of the past two or three decades that has transformed biology into virtually a new science, Rousseau could use only his intuitions concerning the nature of nature. And never could a man have guessed so disastrously wrong.
Rousseau’s vision of asocial primal man became his founding fallacy. He could not know that not a species in our primate family since the early pro-simian, the mouse lemur, has led a solitary life. He could not know that life in organised societies is so characteristically the animal way that a few brief references to such species as the leopard have been sufficient to dispose of those capable of solitary existence. He could not know that xenophobia in a state of nature is as common as the grouping of familiars.
“Man is born free, yet everywhere we see him in chains” is the celebrated opening line of The Social Contract. Yet more definitive of Rousseau’s thought is the opening line of Emile, published in the same year and a work he regarded as more important. […] With the opening sentence of Emile the Age of the Alibi was launched: Nature made me happy and good, and if I am otherwise, it is society’s fault. Rousseau’s founding fallacy that primal man knew no society is compounded by the second assumption that man in a state of nature was happy and good. That Rousseau knew nothing of the territorial imperative in animal life and regarded the invention of private property as the curse that man brought on himself becomes a minor ignorance.
What I believe should be stressed is that Jean-Jacques Rousseau in his time had every right to be wrong. How could he know that natural men were created unequal, or that original goodness is as unlikely as original equality? How could he know that the institution of privately defended property, like the institution of society, was an evolutionary invention far antedating man and his primate family? How could he know in the days before dart that man was descended from predatory primates who killed for a living? Not even Darwin knew that.
The catastrophe is not that Rousseau was wrong but that after two centuries we are wrong; that biological advances since Darwin’s time have penetrated our thinking not at all; that fashions of thought today are as firmly grounded in the Rousseau fallacies as if the natural sciences had never existed.


On Thursday, 11 February, 2016, a group of some one thousand scientists co-authored a paper announcing that the LIGO interferometric array had after more than a decade of fruitlessly accumulating data , positively identified the signature of gravitational waves coming from a deep space event. This was a phenomenon predicted by Albert Einstein in 1915 in a landmark paper henceforward known as The General Theory of Relativity. I have known for some time that results are being attributed to observations made with instruments that were inherently incapable of doing so. My scepticism is well known, and I consequently received dozens of requests to publish my view of the matter. In general, layman’s terms, here it is.
My analysis:
On September 14, LIGO observed a “chirp” lasting about a fifth of a second. Analyses of the signal suggest that it was produced by the cataclysmic collision of two black holes a billion light years away. Question: The almighty collision between two supermassive bodies produces a wave lasting just a fifth of second? The instruments that comprise LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory) were set up to try to achieve a specific goal, consequent to the predictions of General Relativity Theory. The mirrors in the interferometer are set 4km apart. The expected variation in that distance would be 10^-18 metres or 10^-15 millimetres. In layman’s language, they are looking for a change in distance over the four kilometre separation of ONE THOUSAND TRILLIONTH OF A MILLIMETRE!
The change in distance equates to a required design sensitivity of the LIGO interferometer of one part in 10^21. That is, a resolution of ONE PART in ONE BILLION TRILLION.
Let’s try to put the expected variation into some sort of comprehensible perspective. The diameter of a hydrogen atom is obtained experimentally at 10^-7 mm. Therefore, Ligo seeks to measure a distance that is ONE HUNDRED MILLIONTH of the diameter of a hydrogen atom. Put another way, if the change were one hundred million times greater than the one they claim to have measured, it would be the same as adding or subtracting a SINGLE ATOM to or from the four kilometre distance separating the mirrors.
That is probably unimaginable to most people, so let’s try to add further perspective.
The best precision mirror surfaces are polished to match the ideal, nearly parabolic surface to about 25 nanometres – about 3 ten-thousandths of the width of a human hair. That is incredibly fine tolerance, but let’s compare it with the difference in length that LIGO claims to measure. A nanometre is a unit of spatial measurement that is 10^-9 meter, or one billionth of a meter. Take it down one level – a nanometre is a millionth of a millimetre.
The most precisely polished astrophysical mirrors, like those used in LIGO, can have peaks 25 nm above and below the theoretical surface plane of the mirror. 50 nm is a BILLION TIMES bigger than the gravitational wave signature. In practical terms, it is impossible to measure the distance between the two mirrors in each interferometer (actually said to be 3999.5 metres) to the required tolerances, so they have had to take an average, which is guesswork.
There are other conditions which change the distance between the mirrors by many orders of magnitude greater than the anticipated gravitational wave fluctuation. There is change in ambient temperature as the array goes through day and night cycles, and therefore expansion and contraction. Waves caused by seismic fluctuations are ever present, disturbing the separation. There are also anthropogenic waves, resulting from trucking, blasting, mining, and railroads, for example.
Then there are the influences affecting the light and its frequency that lie between the source of the radiation being measured and the Earth. There are all manner of objects, systems, and force fields in inter-galaxian space. These are not precisely known; some are completely invisible to us, yet they have a profound effect on light signals that simply cannot be quantified by measurement.
The LIGO instruments have all sorts of protective devices shielding them from extraneous kinetics and noise, but to filter those impediments out without fiddling with the sought-after signal, the LIGO scientists would have to guess their magnitude. That is not an empirically sound way to arrive at an accurate answer.
Ligo cost over $620 million US to construct. Research grants and operating costs take that figure to well over one billion US dollars. Hold that thought.
To summarise, paraphrasing the words of Nobel Laureate Steven Weinberg in reference to Edwin Hubble’s initial interpretation of galaxian redshifts, “…it seems they knew the answer they wanted to get.”

Astrophysical Bohemia (Being the Further Adventures of a Cosmic Terrorist)

Astrophysical Bohemia

(Being the Further Adventures of a Cosmic Terrorist)


By Hilton Ratcliffe



Voelvlei is a 300-acre patch of pristine veld and wetland in the lee of KwaZulu-Natal’s Karkloof Mountains. There, in a rambling Meccano-set, double story house, shaped, it would appear, more by its inventors’ exploratory drive than by architectural vision, live Paul and Jill Jackson. Paul is a retired professor of physics and general inquisitor of nature. From time to time, I make the two-hour journey through the rolling emerald hills of Natal’s magnificent midlands to spend some quality learning time with the Jacksons, gazing out over the valley towards distant timber plantations with their two dogs and a cat that came in from the cold. I would like to recount a recent visit, because it illustrates the long-term benefits of listening to someone who knows more than you do, even if you don’t always agree. The dialogue took place in warm autumn sunshine on the front lawn, traced over a litany of birdcalls and buzzing friendly insects. I have named it “The Lesson of Voelvlei” and my account takes the form of an unsent letter to Prof Jackson.


“Dear Paul,

“I’ve been thinking a lot about our conversation yesterday. There’s good news and there’s bad news. First, the bad news. You pointedly advised me to be wary of logic and rational thought as the means to reach conclusions about the world. Thank you for the advice, but it occurs to me that you used logic to frame your argument! It’s a paradox in the purest sense. I listened carefully, and weighed up what you said—with logic again. I’m afraid it’s a dead-end street, a classical circulus in probando sand trap that leads nowhere useful. Actually, I must say, it’s just plain bad advice.


“Notwithstanding that, I came away enriched by something else. You told me to remember who I am. Where do I come from? How am I equipped to deal with my shift in history? Yes, I am indeed a chattering African ape with interesting thumbs, given to exuberant vocal signalling called speech. This is where our dialogue, essentially between two monkeys on a hillside, barking and coughing at each other under a clear blue African sky, has led me: To look carefully at just what sort of machine I am in this magnificent wilderness, and how the cogs and wheels of my consciousness equip me to derive, hold, and express an opinion on anything at all that drifts in through the windows of perception.


“The Lesson of Voelvlei is profound, and may in fuller time emerge as a book in its own right. For now, I want only to set the wheels in motion. What kind of monkey am I? This is the threshold of a tricky game in which I think about thought, and I must be careful not to out-clever myself.


“It would appear likely that in common with all sentient species, my mental pictures mimic—that is, symbolise in a faithful way—the world outside. The first principle is that the spatial frame of reference in my mind is the same as that which applies to the real world outside. It is a 3-dimensional construct, plain and simple. I can create and hold in my mind an image of a 2-D object, say the surface of a page, but must realise that the image, like a hologram, is framed in a 3-D place. If I rotate the page in my mind, it becomes obvious. We cannot conceive of any object in other than 3-dimensional space. That’s the first clue that we are designed to accommodate environmental parameters, not conflict with them.


“The next phase is how the ‘facts’ arrange themselves; the way cause proceeds to effect; and how our mental processes best deal with this. Essentially, what happens is that we can manipulate these mind-bytes, using our designed-in cerebral abilities, in such a way that we are able, more or less successfully, to predict a given effect from observed causes. This is logic. The rational, dependable progression from cause to effect is a process that we are cerebrally equipped to manipulate towards a useful outcome. Once again, it is obvious that we are monkeys designed in harmony with natural, real world processes.


“In the context of the Lesson of Voelvlei, what emerges is this: To get a coherent mental reconstruction of external reality, we must use logic. There is no other way to consistently produce a proper result. We are simply not equipped—dare I say intended?—to deal with the world irrationally as a survival mechanism. It would be counter-productive and unnatural. Whatever we think, the only audit we have is comparison with external reality. No matter how convinced I might be that by simply flapping my arms I could fly like a bird, if I were to test my faith by jumping off the Empire State, gravity would win. If I can predict gravity’s victory, that’s logic.


“So yes, I am a chattering African ape (a notion which does not offend me in the slightest), and I babble on unashamedly in ape-talk, thinking and developing opinions in the fashion of the monkey that I am. For every yin, there is a yang. Intelligence is a mastery of logic and an appreciation of the aesthetic. Hedonism is tempered by ethics. Rational is shadowed by the irrational, and we, creatures of the little blue planet, must cope with that. It’s how well we harmonise with the laws of nature that will determine in the broadest terms the location of that seminal line drawn in the sands of time that separates success from failure. We won’t win by fighting it.


But I guess we all need to decide just what the ‘it’ is in our equation of state.


With kind regards, Hilton”


My father was agnostic, and I was brought up without religious prejudice. That really was an advantage, because when I went into science I had no philosophical or theological baggage to worry about. It was great. Eventually, my journey took me into the infinite universe of astronomy, and what I came across, what I saw with my own eyes, absolutely blew me away. There are enormous creatures out there, so big they make your eyes water, and they belong to species with the same general shape and behaviour that stretch out for as far as our instruments can see. I hadn’t expected to find what I did, and must admit to being somewhat puzzled that most professional astronomers seem to be desensitised to the spectacle and take these things for granted.


How can I possibly convey the rush that I get from looking at the cosmos? You see, what we have in the environment—and remember, astrophysicists are actually environmentalists on a really big scale—is consistently repeated patterns. We see millions of things, all with the same shape and general behaviour. Why? That’s the question! A few months ago, someone gave me an orchid to put on my desk. The buds were still furled, but over several weeks they opened up into the most stunning blooms with absolutely incredibly detailed intricacy. They were symmetrical, yet not. I spent hours gazing at them in abject wonder, and it occurred to me that orchids do not emerge because of a random, chaotic process. They are perfectly formed according to a detailed, pre-conceptual template that lays out the plan in such way a way that although all orchids of a particular species are similar, no two are identical. It’s all written in the genetic plan.


The kind of “intelligence” evolutionary processes have is a vision of the outcome before the process starts.


It’s exactly the same but on a vastly bigger scale up in the heavens. The nebulae, stars, galaxies and clusters of clusters of galaxies are blooms in the cosmic flower garden, and they reproduce themselves in the same general way. Consistently repeated patterns can’t be fobbed off as coincidence. It’s design, and it’s incredible.

Our Rude Forefathers

norway 2



A recent documentary programme on the isolated communities at the Arctic end of Norway’s magnificent, desolate coastal wilderness touched an inquisitive nerve in my consciousness. The camera stroked delicate nuances of colour from almost monochrome, fiercely jagged fjords, and reverently wove its way through the aching streets of boarded-up villages, where only ghosts appreciate the view. I followed the lens as it drifted into a churchyard—yes, such is the power of Christendom that even here, where reindeer fear to tread, there is always a church—and out into an expansive field of hoary graves where a few hopeful flowers remember spring. The tombstones are lichen-covered monuments to memories that themselves have gone cold. The camera quietly records the defunct generations of a millennium or more, now forgotten and left to lie in wait for the occasional sentimental visit by distant relatives or even the Blue Moon intrusion of a cameraman such as he.



I am poignantly reminded of Thomas Gray’s epic Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard.


Save that from yonder ivy-mantled tow’r

The moping owl does to the moon complain

Of such, as wand’ring near her secret bow’r,

Molest her ancient solitary reign.


Beneath those rugged elms, that yew-tree’s shade,

Where heaves the turf in many a mould’ring heap,

Each in his narrow cell for ever laid,

The rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep.


Let not Ambition mock their useful toil,

Their homely joys, and destiny obscure;

Nor Grandeur hear with a disdainful smile

The short and simple annals of the poor.


The boast of heraldry, the pomp of pow’r,

And all that beauty, all that wealth e’er gave,

Awaits alike th’ inevitable hour.

The paths of glory lead but to the grave.


Nor you, ye proud, impute to these the fault,

If Mem’ry o’er their tomb no trophies raise,

Where thro’ the long-drawn aisle and fretted vault

The pealing anthem swells the note of praise.


Can storied urn or animated bust

Back to its mansion call the fleeting breath?

Can Honour’s voice provoke the silent dust,

Or Flatt’ry soothe the dull cold ear of Death?


Perhaps in this neglected spot is laid

Some heart once pregnant with celestial fire;

Hands, that the rod of empire might have sway’d,

Or wak’d to ecstasy the living lyre.


But Knowledge to their eyes her ample page

Rich with the spoils of time did ne’er unroll;

Chill Penury repress’d their noble rage,

And froze the genial current of the soul.



I thought of those Rude Forefathers, these really no different from mine, and wondered if the nostalgic scene could bring me closer to the purpose of life. Untouched by all but the most rudimentary of technological remedies and social grace, they lived their lives organically and without pretence. They passed their time in simple, untouched peace, enduring the harshness of nature and unforeseen misfortune without the panacea of analgesics and anaesthetics. They raised their children and their livestock, tilled soil no more than a stone’s throw from their homes, and after all that toil and unwelcome pillaging by Vikings on their way to Iceland, their gift to the future was little more than their progeny and a mouldy tombstone.
That they did not invent vaccines or build pyramids or wage famous wars means they are anonymous in history, and for what they were in life, are now so completely forgotten that they might just as well not have existed at all.

Except for one almost invisible thing: Their seed.

What was the purpose of their lives? We cannot give a measured answer to that question by considering only what they experienced while they lived. We must step back and consider the species without factoring individual peons in the tribe. The satisfactions of life, and indeed life itself, pass in a smoky flash in the eye of eternity. Whatever their allotted span, whatever hardship, pain, or brief pleasure came their way, now it is gone and crumbled to dust. Their personalities and their physiques are not even shadows to be glimpsed by whirring video as we amble through history’s cemetery with more mystery upon our laden brows than before we came. Stripped of all the glamour and badges of showbiz achievement, lives such as these seem utterly meaningless. Except for one thing.

The survival of the species.

That’s it. A ghastly, macabre game of survival against preset environmental obstacles in a Universe that does not feel our pain. Actually, it’s absurd. The yoke of life weighs heavily upon our shoulders, and we have to hypnotise ourselves with temporary escape to find reward and satisfaction. No wonder people have in their quiver of arrows the instinct of belief and irrational awe of the idols of superstition.

Why else would we bother?


The Forer Effect

The Forer effect (also called the Barnum effect after P. T. Barnum’s observation that “we’ve got something for everyone”) is the observation that individuals will give high accuracy ratings to descriptions of their personality that supposedly are tailored specifically for them, but are in fact vague and general enough to apply to a wide range of people. This effect can provide a partial explanation for the widespread acceptance of some beliefs and practices, such as astrology, fortune telling, graphology, aura reading and some types of personality tests. A related and more general phenomenon is that of subjective validation. Subjective validation occurs when two unrelated or even random events are perceived to be related because a belief, expectation, or hypothesis demands a relationship. Thus people seek a correspondence between their perception of their personality and the contents of a horoscope. (Wikipedia).

My place or yours?

A peaceful Sunday morning for me has been disturbed by plaintive forays into the garden with a fully charged paintball gun. My somewhat naive mission was to repel an invading troop of Vervet monkeys as non-lethally as possible. Here’s the thing: The situation in my garden this morning eschewed any sort of political or emotional sophistication. It was raw, primal, lacking any vestige of intellectual consideration. The conflict that rages at SkywalkerHeim is politics reduced to first principles. It is territory, pure and simple.

Voting is an expression of political will, and political will, in turn, expresses deep-seated tribal instincts. The inevitable consequence of social organisation—in mammals at least—is the subconscious stimulation of aggression and even violence between political laagers; there remains always an incontrovertible link to territorial pressure. At the end of it all, when we meditate upon these things over a perfectly brewed cup of tea, comprehending the roots of human social organisation becomes embarrassingly simple as the role of territory clicks into place.

Tuskless in Paradise.

Excerpt from The Social Contract – a Personal Inquiry into the Evolutionary Sources of Order and Disorder by Robert Ardrey

Tuskless in Paradise.

A society is a group of unequal beings organized to meet common needs.

In any sexually reproducing species, equality of individuals is a natural impossibility. Inequality must therefore be regarded as the first law of social materials, whether in human or other societies. Equality of opportunity must be regarded among vertebrate species as the second law. Insect societies may include genetically determined castes, but among backboned creatures this cannot be. Every vertebrate born, excepting in only in a few rare species, is granted equal opportunity to display his genius, or to make a fool of himself.

While a society of equals—whether of baboons or jackdaws, lions or men—is a natural impossibility, a just society is a realizable goal. Since the animal, unlike the human being, is seldom tempted by the pursuit of the impossible, his societies are seldom denied the realizable.

The just society, as I see it, is one in which sufficient order protects members, whatever their diverse endowments, and sufficient disorder provides every individual with full opportunity to develop his genetic endowment, whatever that may be. It is this balance of order and disorder, varying in rigour according to environmental hazard, that I think of as the social contract. And that it is a biological command will become evident as we inquire among the species.

Violation of biological command has been the failure of social man. Vertebrates though we may be, we have ignored the law of equal opportunity since civilizations earliest hours. Sexually reproducing beings though we are, we pretend today that the law of inequality does not exist. And enlightened though we may be, while we pursue the unattainable, we make impossible the realizable.

God Particle or Goddamn Particle?

My monthly astrophysical column written for the Astronomical Society of Southern Africa.

July 2012

“All truth passes through three phases. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as self-evident.” – Arthur Schopenhauer, German philosopher, 1788 – 1860

The media are awash with rumour, speculation, and no small measure of excitement. No doubt the thirteen million eager sycophants who bought and applauded Stephen Hawking’s monumental best-seller, A Brief History of Time, are leaning forward in their armchairs in rapt expectation—the shady halls of journalism are experiencing a feeding frenzy, devouring the scraps cast out by CERN and regurgitating them with thrilling headlines: The God Particle has been found! It must have been. As the cost of the Large Hadron Collider spirals upwards towards the twenty-billion-dollar mark, the world of armchair scientists prepares a fete of celebration not seen since Sir Arthur Eddington announced that he had indeed found confirmation of General Relativity Theory in the solar eclipse of 1919. So what’s all the fuss about?

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