New Atheism And Islamophobia

-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

Richard DawkinsTo go along with blasphemy and hate-speech criminalization, there’s a new line of attack on atheists that has recently gained some popularity. Critics of atheism are trying to associate atheistic arguments against Islam with Islamophobia. In a recent article in Salon, Nathan Lean has written what is basically one long ad-hominem fallacy focusing on Richard Dawkins. Lean’s attempt to link Dawkins with the Islamophobia of the far-right is totally lacking in substance.

Lean claims that Dawkins is “on record praising the far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders.” We have previously discussed Wilders’ trial as a threat to free speech, here, and his travel ban from England for his anti-Islam movie “Fitna,” here. Dawkins wrote:

To repeat, Wilders may have said and done other things of which I am unaware, which deserve condemnation, but I can see nothing reprehensible in his making of Fitna, and certainly nothing for which he should go on trial.

Dawkins characterizes Wilders’ trial as “pandering to the ludicrous convention that religious opinion must not be ‘offended’.” Russell Blackford wholeheartedly agrees with Dawkins when Dawkins wrote: “In Fitna, taken on its own, I have found no cause to put Wilders on trial or even to censure him in any substantial way.” Lean conflates Dawkins’ praise of Wilders’ film with praise for Wilders’ other views, while offering no supporting evidence. The support of free speech rights, especially for those with whom we disagree, is a cornerstone of liberty. Lean’s article is devoid of any reference to the right of free speech.

Lean quotes Dawkins’ Twitter account:

Islam is comforting? Tell that to a woman, dressed in a bin bag [trash bag], her testimony worth half a man’s and needing 4 male witnesses to prove rape.

Lean makes no attempt to deny the validity of the content, he only notes that Dawkins, by his own admission, hasn’t read the Quran. Lean offers no explanation as to why reading the Quran is a prerequisite for criticizing the words, deeds, and beliefs of its adherents.

Lean notes Dawkins’ criticism of the gender segregated seating at a University College of London debate. Lean seems to find nothing wrong with the “separate seating option for conservative, practicing Muslims.” I’m a “conservative, practicing” civil-libertarian and a Muslim’s Female-segregation is not to be accommodated. Lean goes on to cite a similar situation when “Barclays Center in New York recently offered gender-separate seating options for Orthodox Jews.” Lean is fallaciously directing attention away from Muslims’ Female-segregation by pointing out someone else’s Female-segregation. Lean’s article is devoid of any reference to equal rights for women.

Powerful philosophical arguments, such as the imaginary nature of God and the impossibility of omniscience/omnipotence, are just as valid with respect to Islam as Christianity. The arguments for creationism are just as vacuous when they come from Muslims.

Lean’s substance-free diatribe only highlights the intellectual flimsiness that supports religion.

H/T: Jerry Coyne, Eugene Volokh, Russell Blackford, Taner Edis.

74 thoughts on “New Atheism And Islamophobia

  1. Excellent piece. People don’t want to believe the truth about Islam — several truths of which Dawkins states in that tweet. I am an atheist, but I’ve been reading about Islam since 9/11 — changing my previously held (uneducated) view that it was just another religion: chocolate to Judaism’s strawberry and Catholicism’s vanilla. Islam, practiced by anyone but lapsed Muslims (per the Quran) is religion as human rights violations and a totalitarian system masquerading as religion.

  2. Nal,

    Salon is not the only one to finger Dawkins as an as*hole.

    In fact, he is named in a couple of books that are studying the social phenomenon of as*holes:

    Thus, in this series we will follow the scholars as they examine one as*hole after another, especially when they name names:

    To put meat on the bones of his theory, James names names … Rush Limbaugh and Michael Moore … Richard Dawkins, Larry Summers, and Bernard-Henri Lévy … Dick Cheney … Ralph Nader … There are many species in the as*hole kingdom.

    (ibid, see also As*holes: a theory). Stay tuned like a piano dear readers, because this new ongoing hypothesis will likely be morphed into a hypothesis of phases.

    That is, this hypothesis may show that the first phase of the activation of the toxins of power is related to the advent of as*hole characteristics (see Ascent of the A-Word: As*holism).

    (“On The Origin of As*holes“). if you care to investigate further (since word press does not allow some descriptive words), turn the asterisk “*” into an “s” in the following URL, then read this post concerning the scholarly study:

    http://powertoxins.blogspot.com/2013/01/on-origin-of-as*holes.html

  3. The author of the article attacking Dawkins et al is Nathan Lean not Lane. (I wondered why the actor would be taking on Dawkins.).

    Having cleared that up, the problem with people who love religion is that they want every one to love it too. If you don’t or if you dare criticze their religion or follow another, they want the government to punish you.

    As to Islamophobia, I am afraid of theocracies of every stripe but there are some particularly nasty practices that some Muslim theocrats currently engage in that are particularly troubling and their penchant for blasphemy and apostasy prosecutions makes me rather intolerant, if you will, of their theories and methods of government allegedly based on the Quran. Whenever these concerns are raised, one is often lectured about the love of science and tolerance of the ancient Muslim rulers but that was long a go and far away and from what I have read rather embroidered. The other lines of attack include claims of racism and ignorance of the many and varied shades of Islam of which one is clearly and intolerantly unaware.
    Discussions of the oppression of women often results in a righteous claim that the women of Islam are freer and more respected than any the western world. One is told that women want to wear clothing that covers everything but their hands and eyes; it frees them. From what you might ask? Don’t ask, its just too ridiculous.

    Blasphemy and apostasy laws are an abomination. They place government power in the hands of men who see themselves as keepers of the ultimate knowledge and chosen by god to impart that knowledge to others or in the alternative rule others with gods power both here and in the hereafter. Call it religion or call it megalomania, it is the same illness when it gets to that level. When a human believes he is in touch with the Almighty and knows his mind, he is dangerous. Give him the power of government and he is lethal. It doesn’t matter whether the claim to power comes from Muhamed, Christ, Moses or Buddha, they are dangerous to humans.

  4. Justice Holmes 1, April 27, 2013 at 10:11 am

    … the problem with people who love religion is that they want every one to love it too. If you don’t or if you dare criticze their religion or follow another, they want the government to punish you.
    ======================================
    The converse is also true.

    Atheists feel the same way about their atheism.

    One of the keys is the language in the establishment clause:

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.

    Atheism is not mentioned, but the government is also prevented from imposing any religion on atheists.

    Both sides should be happy with being protected in their beliefs, and stop the struggle to grasp more power than the other.

    Equal protection is sufficient.

  5. Yes Amy, Islam is sooooooooooo different from every other religion. Unlike all those other religions you can’t find any decent people who are Muslim. Unlike Islam you can’t find a single murderous, bigoted, misogynistic, authoritarian morons in every other religion.

    If you can find any examples of those things they they are exception not the rule, right Amy? The ugly things that can be pointed out in the Bible and the Torah are blips as are the peaceful loving passages of the Koran. The peaceful loving passages of the Bible and Torah are what is important, along with the ugly violent part of the Koran. Because why? Because Amy read about it some place after 9/11. Good thing she didn’t read about Christianity after OK City or the Atlanta Olympic bombings or she might have decided that is a religion of human rights abuse.

  6. BTW – as a pastafarian I can honestly say mine is the only religion that has not had the problems displayed by all other religions . . . yet. I assume if we survive long enough there will be one.

    I’ll be if I tried I could even find atheists that behave badly. Thats just human nature I guess, some people are @ssholes. If a belief in an invisible sky wizard makes them bigger ones that is a feature of the person not the belief

  7. I’ll give nothing for a mans religion whose dog is not the very better for it…. Forget who wrote it….

  8. “The application of Scientific Method is universal. … there is nothing too lowly, repulsive, obscure, contentious, or deceptive to come within its scope. Neither is there anything too ‘sacred,’ which generally means a fear that the things so denominated cannot bear investigation.” [emphasis added] — F. C. S. Schiller, Logic for Use (1930)

    Subjecting “religion,” like any other subject, to Scientific Method quickly reveals its fundamentally ludicrous supposition: namely, that the world works not according to discoverable laws working everywhere the same but through the whim of obscure, fickle personalities whose “powerful” appetites and prejudices one can assuage or conciliate through stereotypical ritual practices such that the world will work otherwise than predictably, and to one’s own personal advantage.

    I once asked a professor of Religious Studies how anyone could expect me to read the infantile, barbaric “sacred scriptures” of the three major desert religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. He smiled genially and replied: “You’re not supposed to read them. You’re supposed to worship them.” As a study in comparative infantile psychopathology, however, application of the Scientific Method to “religion” can yield some truly hair-raising insights into the “sacred” and “profane” — but I repeat myself.

    As for “offending” the tender sensibilities of the willfully ignorant, I believe the Buddha dispensed with that notion when he said: “You cannot give offense to anyone unwilling to take it.” Noting the active nature of the transitive verb, “to take,” so-called and self-styled “religious” persons need to “take personal responsibility” for their own equanimity and not allow others to give them an emotional “gift” that they can easily refuse to accept.

  9. Dredd 1, April 27, 2013 at 11:14 am

    Justice Holmes 1, April 27, 2013 at 10:11 am

    … the problem with people who love religion is that they want every one to love it too. If you don’t or if you dare criticze their religion or follow another, they want the government to punish you.
    ======================================
    The converse is also true.

    Atheists feel the same way about their atheism.

    *****

    Atheists want the government to punish believers? Really? Do most atheists proselytize? I think atheists may be looking for acceptance. There are people in power who do not speak well of the non-believers.

    *****

    Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels Accuses Atheism as Cause of Holocaust and Other Great Crimes Against Humanity
    http://jonathanturley.org/2009/12/27/indiana-governor-mitch-daniels-accuses-atheism-as-cause-of-holocaust-and-other-great-crimes-against-humanity/

    The Blair Witch Project: Former Prime Minister Warns of Atheists Among Us
    http://jonathanturley.org/2009/10/09/the-blair-witch-project-former-prime-minister-warns-of-atheists-among-us/

    The Sacking of Secularism: Chief Rabbi Denounces Secularism as Threat to Western Civilization
    http://jonathanturley.org/2009/11/05/the-sacking-of-secularism-chief-rabbi-denounces-secularism-as-threat-to-western-civilization/

    New Report Details Global Crackdown On Atheists and Secularists
    http://jonathanturley.org/2013/02/26/new-report-details-global-crackdown-on-atheists-and-secularists/

    Report: Atheists and Religious Critics Persecuted Around The World
    http://jonathanturley.org/2012/12/10/report-atheists-and-religious-critics-persecuted-around-the-world/

  10. This athiest tent head pirate hating dog who also beleives in the 9th Day Dog Adventist theme (contradictory with atheism) believes that all folks east of Corfu demand strict scrutiny whether Christian, Muslim, Goathead, or Pirate Athiest. Bhudists are excepted from the strict scrutiny.

  11. Frankly,

    I completely agree with you. I don’t have to agree with all of Sam Harris’ political positions (for instance) to think that his arguments against conscious free will are scientifically sound (and, in my opinion, incredibly dangerous to many people’s religious philosophies—omnipotence and omni-benevolence cannot be reconciled without conscious free will). On the subject of pastafarianism, I would note that it is also the only religion that I know of which has a deity with a “noodlely appendage”—so it’s got that going for it.

    May her noodlely appendage enfold us all,

    rAmen

    Michael Murry,

    Well said.

    Dredd said: “Both sides should be happy with being protected in their beliefs, and stop the struggle to grasp more power than the other.”

    Wow, that’s like the mother of all false equivalences.

  12. Give me that old time religion..
    Give me that old time religion…
    Give me that old time religion, its good enough for me.

    It was good enough for Martin…
    If it was good enough for Martin, its good enough for me.

    Now why would there be a “new time religion”? Or another religion from a different time? Or a faith based non religion? Or shake n bake and not fried chicken daddy?

    [music]
    We’re rednecks, rednecks,
    We dont know our arse from a hole in the wall.
    etc.

  13. I agree that the article is badly written, but I do think Dawkins, and especially Sam Harris, muddy their thinking with emotion when it comes to Islam.

    The Dawkins quote: Islam is comforting? Tell that to a woman, dressed in a bin bag [trash bag], her testimony worth half a man’s and needing 4 male witnesses to prove rape.

    This is beneath his considerable intellect. That there are some Muslims who justify their barbarous behavior with an ancient text, in no way invalidates the positive feelings millions of people feel because of their faith. Muslims are just as capable as Christians of picking and choosing which parts of their faith to follow. And thank goodness!

    It’s really no different than when someone uses the atrocities of officially atheist dictatorships as illustrations of the inherent negative qualities of atheism. Bad people will use a variety of excuses to justify their bad behavior.

    There are good people who use religious texts as guides for living good lives. I don’t agree with their beliefs, but this is a fact. “There is no evidence for the existence of God” is an obvious fact. “There are no good things that come from religion” is not.

    Sam Harris is not just a little logically muddled when it comes to his feelings on Islam, he’s downright bigoted.

    As recently as last year, he said, “We should profile Muslims, or anyone who looks like he or she could conceivably be Muslim, and we should be honest about it.”

    He’s also as ignorant and/or dishonest as many religious fundamentalists when he says things like: “In our dealings with the Muslim world, we must acknowledge that Muslims have not found anything of substance to say against the actions of the September 11 hijackers, apart from the ubiquitous canard that they were really Jews.” This is easily found to be demonstrably false.

    I don’t believe there is a God. And I think Dawkins is one of the greatest science writers ever. But arguing against the existence of a supernatural force behind the universe is very different from claiming that religion (and especially one in particular) is inherently a negative thing.

  14. Dredd: the problem with people who love religion is that they want every one to love it too. If you don’t or if you dare criticze their religion or follow another, they want the government to punish you…. Atheists feel the same way about their atheism.

    No, they do not. I am an atheist; even stronger, I am a complete non-supernaturalist. I do not care if others embrace that, I do not want the government to punish others for believing in the supernatural, and I have no problem with people criticizing my atheism. They are just wrong and deluded, but usually because that gives them some existential comfort and I don’t mind that. My mother is religious, two of my sisters are religious (one is not), most of my extended family is religious (with atheists sprinkled in).

    My observation is that the people I know that are atheists (several dozen) typically are mentally incapable of being anything else. They mentally gag on the magic and contradictions that would be necessary to swallow in order to truly believe; “faith” doesn’t work for them.

    Most people can submit themselves to irrational authority without question. Call that “faith” or whatever you want, some of us are born (or possibly raised, or some combination of both) with a demand for coherency that overrides our emotional desire for something to be true.

    I do not expect others to embrace atheism because I say so, or the government tells them to do it. Atheism is a destination that people arrive at by independently concluding that nothing else makes any coherent sense; and the majority of people will never arrive at that destination because they are not distressed by incoherency and bad logic.

    I certainly do not feel about atheism as religionists feel about their religion; they are not equivalent. The reason is that the religionist believes in something, and the atheist does not.

    Therefore, the religionist can believe that my actions that break his God’s laws are inviting God’s wrath upon him, or his city, or his town. Christians may believe that Katrina was sent by God to punish New Orleans for its sins; or 9/11 was a warning from God about America’s sinful nature.

    The false beliefs of the religionist can directly lead to false conclusions about the world, and thus cause them to take action against false targets and cause harm to innocent people. (That is not just true in America, but the rest of the world; the false belief that a city (e.g. Jerusalem) is “sacred” or it, or some particular stretch of land, was given to them “by God” and no other acreage will do, but that they own that “holy” ground.)

    The atheist does not believe in supernatural laws, retribution or warnings (or that objects or places are imbued with some supernatural value), and thus does not make that kind of harmful error, and by excluding both supernatural causes and supernatural “solutions” we are more likely to discern the true causes of problems, and more likely to devise solutions that have a chance of working in the real world.

  15. I don’ know how anee church or religion missed a’knee one of “thee’s”…
    ~!@#$%^&*()_+…?
    `1234567890-=…/*
    …-…
    …8…
    … a little mon-keying around, ate is aw sum… I saw it on the sisterhood where he bought the little ffu’.cuff’s for hear, see, and speak no evil, and the I’s know’s, (knews), not to change any thing that is written: protect youre eye lest it sin …, gouge it out…, if you have not fullfilled the rites given you on sight, therin gouge out the other eye as’ well! …, etc. -…
    …the r’ ears, and ton gu’ : they can claim no dis ability fore any reason : it is a commandmint in the gospel !

    then again there was al’ gore and the murphy brown ^ KEY, know hy-phinn, an’GEE’S list NO’S watt to do’n oh,zone.
    ewe start everairy thought with i knead in any language and thee^thought’s kneaded… guud ore bad…, what did knew’t, a georg’a peach, and prickly pear’a con’nee co-ch’ng (con-fess two)-
    …god will breathe life in two there knawstr’lls and when nos strings at hatched thee wom’an’soul is give ‘ n sew wear is the abor’shun now ! …-
    … Been frankli’ n in vented bi fock’le and light’neeing two’n a deck clearayshun and cons tit two shun and pond herd wi.GOD told the jews to call their lan’ Is.Ra ‘El.

    a’other place and Tim’ cock was called cat. and care oh’l’n’een un BLUE j. with ash’buro and as’ville in the four tease and JESUS CHRIST zipped up the mid’ll in another year.

    then greens-burr owe. a woman said to a preacher that’s he did knot knead a middle man to tok. too GOD. I did knot know how to tell her I muved U S TwO-3 knowing I-76, is seven – ate.
    tern up the what’age, stop in two any I-hop’ or. waff’ll house for gri’s and a good case of the sh’ts
    ohm ne. pod-mi. pa’d me. ‘ome.
    c’ant find the rest area, it’s a w’i.ghtt’n me.ga.-h’ertz, and d’f-fer-rant k’rran’see’. … a bit of U’S thirty, one VI- Keying read tee-see, mI! ware did yer house get it’s copy rite? spar-t’ns, leeches, tit-t’ns, musk’ll-ung, gladi-a-terse, perch, or old mission.
    ware did U R HOUZ get “iT’s copPyee – rite ‘Rick! sew p.u.re-lee mis’again?
    …a bore’in reed from seagrove, enn.see-luck’s Be ‘ns
    a read blows in the whin ‘ ‘ ds…

    a dog eat it’s own vom-met, when his’ss is dirty.

  16. I am not an atheist but know many people who and I agree with Tony C.’s descriptions and characterizations 100%.

  17. dredd:

    “Atheism is not mentioned, but the government is also prevented from imposing any religion on atheists.

    Both sides should be happy with being protected in their beliefs, and stop the struggle to grasp more power than the other.

    Equal protection is sufficient”.

    Did I just see you trying to change the opinion of atheists? Good for you!

    The rights of people to practice their religion means that nobody should criticize their opinion. Because the 1st amendment is about protecting people’s feelings about their religious practices, and it has absolutely nothing to say about free speech.

    Or something.

    But I love your idea that trying to change someone’s ideas on a subject, like the subject of religion, means that you are trying to get more power over them. That is so true!

    We atheists are all about world domination, and the best way for us to attain that is to get everyone else to stop believing in nonsense, and to start thinking more clearly about reality. Our agenda, unlike that of the organized churches, is all about mind control. I guess we are going to have to get our sleepy heads up a lot earlier in the morning, if we are going to try to put one over on you!

  18. Of course all atheists and all religionists do not have the same outlook as their fellow atheists and religionists.

    I said in a comment up-thread:

    “Atheists feel the same way about their atheism” [as religionists feel about religion]

    These commenters responded:

    Elaine M. “Atheists want the government to punish believers? Really?”

    Slartibartfast “Wow, that’s like the mother of all false equivalences”

    Tony C. No, they do not.

    Question to Richard Dawkins: “What makes you angry about religion?

    “I am hostile I can get angry … I think faith … is a lethal weapon … the fact that it can be used for the bad makes me want to cut it off at the roots

    I am against religion

    Dawkins and some other atheists would have the government “punish” religion by removing its tax exemption.

    Some religionists would have evolution banned from educational institutions.

    Yes, they have hostilities toward one another.

    That is why I said “Both sides should be happy with being protected in their beliefs, and stop the struggle to grasp more power than the other.”

    Anything else is contra the U.S. Constitution and laws.

  19. Gingerbaker 1, April 27, 2013 at 4:40 pm

    Question to Richard Dawkins: “What makes you angry about religion?

    I am hostile I can get angry … I think faith … is a lethal weapon … the fact that it can be used for the bad makes me want to cut it off at the roots

    I am against religion

    If the same question was posed to a fundamentalist religionist the sentiments would likely be the same against atheists.

    Both are unconstitutional and if a government official had either position and tried to government power to enforce it they would be liable under U.S. law.

  20. Dredd,

    Dawkins and some other atheists would have the government “punish” religion by removing its tax exemption.

    Some religionists would have evolution banned from educational institutions.

    Yes, they have hostilities toward one another.

    *****

    SOME atheists may have hostilities toward religious folks. That certainly does not mean that ALL atheists have hostility toward them.

  21. Dredd: Dawkins and some other atheists would have the government “punish” religion by removing its tax exemption.

    Removing a privileged status is not a “punishment,” if you describe it that way, then anybody that doesn’t have the privilege is already being punished.

    Tax exemption for professing a belief in the supernatural is discriminatory, and selective by our government, it is favoritism for a belief.

    Eliminating discrimination and favoritism is not punishing one side or granting a favor to those discriminated against; it is justice, it is egalitarianism, it is the right thing to do.

    The fact that this financial favor is obtained by professing an impossible to prove belief leaves it wide open to abuse by the criminal element; and then because large amounts of money are at stake, it becomes the government’s job to establish standards for what makes a “real” church or religion “worthy” of their exemption; and it is a mistake to have government pass judgment on whether religion are “real.”

  22. Dredd: <I.Both are unconstitutional

    Nothing Dawkins said is unconstitutional. He said the He is hostile and angry, that he is against religion, that he considers religion a lethal weapon that he wants to cut off at its roots.

    He did not make a threat against anybody, and he did not suggest government should be involved. You attribute sentiments to him that he did not express.

  23. Tony C. 1, April 27, 2013 at 5:59 pm

    Dredd: <I.Both are unconstitutional

    Nothing Dawkins said is unconstitutional. He said the He is hostile and angry, that he is against religion, that he considers religion a lethal weapon that he wants to cut off at its roots.

    He did not make a threat against anybody, and he did not suggest government should be involved. You attribute sentiments to him that he did not express.
    ======================================
    Something is in the way of your reading comprehension again.

    Dawkins is not bound by the U.S. constitution since he was born in Nairobi and is a British subject.

    He is not an American.

    What I said is that if a government official used government power to enforce his views there would be a giant lawsuit and the official would be found to have been acting illegally, and could suffer a damages judgment against him personally.

    Likewise for a government official doing that in the name of religion.

    And that would include Dawkins if he was here in the U.S. doing that at a University.

  24. Elaine M. 1, April 27, 2013 at 5:50 pm

    SOME atheists may have hostilities toward religious folks. That certainly does not mean that ALL atheists have hostility toward them.
    ===============================================
    I would direct your attention to my comment up a couple from yours: “Of course all atheists and all religionists do not have the same outlook as their fellow atheists and religionists.”

    I have heard people in the south say “I am so mad I can’t see straight.”

    I think we can concede the point that Dawkins is that way when it comes to religion, and that Pat Robertson is that way when it comes to atheism.

  25. Deist, atheist, communist, cubist, functionalist, …. Think about it. All these contrarian things ending in “ist”. I think that I am a Contortionist.

  26. A m e r i c a n A t h e i s t s and two co-plaintiffs today filed in U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Kentucky a lawsuit demanding that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) stop giving preferential treatment to churches and religious organizations via the process of receiving non-profit tax-exempt status under the Internal Revue Code (IRC) procedures and definitions.

    “A m er i c a n A t h e i s t s receives tax-exempt status under Internal Revenue Code 501(c)(3),” said A m e r i c a n A t h e i s t s President David Silverman” (Am. Ath. org).

  27. Dredd: What I said is that if a government official used government power to enforce his views there would be a giant lawsuit

    Not in that post, you didn’t. There is nothing wrong with my reading comprehension, there is something wrong with you trying to write coherently.

    In that post you claimed Dawkins’ position was unconstitutional. And whether the US Constitution applies to Dawkins or not is immaterial, a view held by a foreigner can indeed be at odds with the US Constitution. Not being subject to the Constitution makes no difference in the matter, an unconstitutional viewpoint remains a fact whether it can be punished or not.

    (In fact, the Constitution also applies to non-citizens within the jurisdiction of the US Government; as I believe Dawkins has been many times. A visitor to this country has most of the same Constitutional protections as a citizen does, including the rights to free speech, religion, a trial by jury, etc.)

    As for Dawkins claims, the Constitution protects free speech and opinion and ill will toward religion, which is what he was expressing. Citizen or not, his expressions were not at odds with the Constitution.

  28. Tony C. 1, April 27, 2013 at 7:26 pm


    As for Dawkins claims, the Constitution protects free speech and opinion and ill will toward religion, which is what he was expressing. Citizen or not, his expressions were not at odds with the Constitution.
    ==========================================
    If he was a university professor or administrator and he enforced his:

    I am hostile I can get angry … I think faith … is a lethal weapon … the fact that it can be used for the bad makes me want to cut it off at the roots

    I am against religion

    that would cost him his job, a big lawsuit, and damages.

    Not very smart.

    He does not know the difference between his rights and his wrongs.

  29. Religious persecution is the systematic mistreatment of an individual or group of individuals as a response to their religious beliefs or affiliations or lack thereof.

    The tendency of societies or groups within society to alienate or repress different subcultures is a recurrent theme in human history. Moreover, because a person’s religion often determines to a significant extent his or her morality and personal identity, religious differences can be significant cultural factors.

    Religious persecution may be triggered by religious bigotry (i.e. the denigration of practitioners’ religions other than those of the oppressors) or by the State when it views a particular religious group as a threat to its interests or security. At a societal level, this dehumanization of a particular religious group may readily turn into violence or other forms of persecution. Indeed, in many countries, religious persecution has resulted in so much violence that it is considered a human rights problem.” (Wikipedia).

  30. There is only one religion worth saving. With time, with education, with modernity, mankind will climb out of the swamp. When he.she climb, they weill need assistance, and not an alligator. No. The climb to responsible thought and life is necessitated by the assistance of Dog. Gott spulled backwards is Ttog. Which in Swedish is Dog. At least according to my Dogalogue Machine,

  31. Organized religion has brought us mass killing prefaced by angry utterances of, “All@h Akb@r, If God is on our side who can be on theirs,” etc. With our angry atheist here I guess we can just look to the Minnesota thread from yesterday and add, “All in favor of killing the evil b@stard say Aye.”

  32. Taken care of. I guess the @ symbol wasn’t different enough. Strange, it should have been. That word is one of the ones that JT has on the list.

  33. As for Dawkins? I admire him as a thinker, but he’s just as zealous and extreme as those he rails against. As an mostly agnostic/occasionally atheist, at times I wish he’d “keep it in his pants” as it were. He does the cause of atheism as much harm as clowns like Robertson and Tilton do for Christianity. Extremism isn’t an attractive trait or an good persuasive technique.

  34. Dredd,

    I have heard people in the south say “I am so mad I can’t see straight.”

    “I think we can concede the point that Dawkins is that way when it comes to religion, and that Pat Robertson is that way when it comes to atheism.”

    *****
    Is Dawkins so angry that he can’t see straight? Is Pat Robertson so angry that he can’t see straight? I really couldn’t say. I don’t presume to know how others think/really feel.

  35. The usual going after the messenger when you cannot refute the message. As Islam causes more violence and backwardness than other religions, it should be given more criticism and not less. Why some of the left have to defend a basically fascist ideology that is opposed to the freedoms they are supposed to believe in is beyond me.

  36. pete,

    A perfectly rational fear. :mrgreen:

    Tom,

    Why some people insist on considering Islam a monolithic construct without any sectarian and doctrinal differences is beyond me. “Islam” is not one thing any more than “Christianity” is one thing and both of them are guilty of having sects that are backward, oppressive, bigoted, stupid, intolerant and proselytizing. Neither all religious practitioners, practices nor organizations are created equal and to paint them with so broad a brush ignores the facts and is a false equivalence. And in the end, that is the problem with Dawkin’s thoughts on this matter – overly broad generalizations. Religion can be, has been and is currently used like a weapon . . . but not always. He is, however, not an Islamophobe as Lean describes. He’s equally harsh on all organized religions.

  37. What exactly is a person who is an Islamophobe? The use of the word phobe has some DSM IV connotations. Does one dislike or fear Islamic people. Or merely dislike the religion, the hogma so to speak. The phobe word is used when the discussion is gays. Would not an Atheist be phobic against any religion? Therefore sort of equal. He would be religionphobic. I think that I am religionphobic. If I watch the God channels on tv, especially on Sunday when they have the palm out for money, I get disgusted. Palm Sunday is the worst. Then they mix up holidays like Christmas and Easter with Sinter Klaus and the Easter Bunny. It is no wonder that inquiring young minds will walk away from the faith when the truth is revealed about Santa or the Bunny. When the youth learns that the Seven Dwarfs are just midgets then the whole schmeil of Christ, the Cross, the Resurrection get questioned. And that is as it should be. Maybe Atheists are just skeptics and not phobes. Phobes is a bit rough.

  38. Did the Prophet Mohammed really marry a six year old child and have sex with her when she was only nine? That would be scandalous in Dallas. How does that play in Istanbul today for example? Would it be a crime? Is it blasphemous to merely discuss such an historical event like that? Should a young girl fear Islam? If so should she be termed phobic? Inquiring dogs want to know.

  39. If you grow up in a family and you get subjected to doses of religion on a daily basis then when you climb out of the swamp and cast off the beliefs based on Faith, then you are deemed an Atheist. But there is room for discussion about a deity called God who did some things to set life on Earth in motion and then stepped aside.

  40. “Hi mom, hi dad, hi everybody. And this is for you Herbie.” [flips the middle finger]

    How many of you out there are from Saint Louis and watched The Howdie Doodie Show fifty plus years ago and recall the Herbie story? Anyone?

  41. Religion is the opiate of the people. If you do not believe me and need opium then ask your doctor. Otherwise turn on the tv to the religious channels this morning or if you are up early then any of the networks. ABC, CBS and NBC cover all the bases on Sunday morning. If ya dont like Jimmy Swaggert wait forr the commercial and listen to them tell ya to buy some drug for your COPD and to ask your doctor. Then its back to Jimmy Swaggert with a room full of chumps with heads either bowed or looking upward to the lord or the doctor– all drugged up on oxycotton wishing Cotton was a monkey.

  42. there are time it is obvious that euthanizing dogs would not be a bad thing. They stopped being cute the second time you posted & now are just pointlessly annoying.

  43. Michael Murry 1, April 27, 2013 at 1:23 pm

    “The application of Scientific Method is universal. … there is nothing too lowly, repulsive, obscure, contentious, or deceptive to come within its scope. Neither is there anything too ‘sacred,’ which generally means a fear that the things so denominated cannot bear investigation.” [emphasis added] — F. C. S. Schiller, Logic for Use (1930)

    Subjecting “religion,” like any other subject, to Scientific Method quickly reveals its fundamentally ludicrous supposition: namely, that the world works not according to discoverable laws working everywhere the same but through the whim of obscure, fickle personalities whose “powerful” appetites and prejudices one can assuage or conciliate through stereotypical ritual practices such that the world will work otherwise than predictably, and to one’s own personal advantage.
    =========================================
    Oh, if only reality was that simple.

    A scientist many have heard of once said “make things as simple as possible, but no simpler than that.”

    Another champion with many trophies, and currently a world renowned scientist, said:

    Quantum mechanics is an incredible theory that explains all sorts of things that couldn’t be explained before, starting with the stability of atoms. But when you accept the weirdness of quantum mechanics [in the macro world], you have to give up the idea of space-time as we know it from Einstein. The greatest weirdness here is that it [quantum mechanics] doesn’t make sense. If you follow the rules, you come up with something that just isn’t right.

    (The Memes of Penrose, quoting who else, Dr. Sir Roger Penrose, emphasis added). The venerable Penrose dissing the venerable Einstein (many orthodox scientists and their laity, wielding pitchforks, have advanced on the labs and classrooms of Penrose for talking out of school like that).

    A very recent paper (March 2013) has indicated that biological life is older than previously hypothesized:

    An extrapolation of the genetic complexity of organisms to earlier times suggests that life began before the Earth was formed. Life may have started from systems with single heritable elements that are functionally equivalent to a nucleotide. The genetic complexity, roughly measured by the number of non-redundant functional nucleotides, is expected to have grown exponentially due to several positive feedback factors: gene cooperation, duplication of genes with their subsequent specialization, and emergence of novel functional niches associated with existing genes. Linear regression of genetic complexity on a log scale extrapolated back to just one base pair suggests the time of the origin of life 9.7 billion years ago. This cosmic time scale for the evolution of life has important consequences: life took ca. 5 billion years to reach the complexity of bacteria; the environments in which life originated and evolved to the prokaryote stage may have been quite different from those envisaged on Earth; there was no intelligent life in our universe prior to the origin of Earth, thus Earth could not have been deliberately seeded with life by intelligent aliens; Earth was seeded by panspermia; experimental replication of the origin of life from scratch may have to emulate many cumulative rare events; and the Drake equation for guesstimating the number of civilizations in the universe is likely wrong, as intelligent life has just begun appearing in our universe. Evolution of advanced organisms has accelerated via development of additional information-processing systems: epigenetic memory, primitive mind, multicellular brain, language, books, computers, and Internet. As a result the doubling time of complexity has reached ca. 20 years. Finally, we discuss the issue of the predicted technological singularity and give a biosemiotics perspective on the increase of complexity.

    (Cornell Archives). What is wrong with hypothesizing like that?

    Nothing.

    But one of the fundamental assumptions of the paper is problematic, i.e., that certain things have remained the same during a period of split second Big Bang changes going way faster than the speed of light.

    Additionally they may have overly associated their rear view mirror analysis with Moore’s Law, which concerns the technological evolution of computers within human society when they write “The increase of genetic complexity follows Moore’s law” (page 1).

    Additionally, they do not adequately overturn a basic tenet of the Big Bang Theory, which is that carbon formed in stars as those stars eventually declined and went Nova, releasing that carbon into space to later make its way to planets, and then carbon based life.

    Just sayin’ …

    Let’s face it, there are denominations in science as there are in religion.

    To take the pose of some mechanistic purity of scientific thinking or doctrine, or to take the pose of some mechanistic purity of religious thinking or doctrine, is to overly simplify reality.

  44. Michael Murry 1, April 27, 2013 at 1:23 pm

    “The application of Scientific Method is universal. … there is nothing too lowly, repulsive, obscure, contentious, or deceptive to come within its scope. Neither is there anything too ‘sacred,’ which generally means a fear that the things so denominated cannot bear investigation.” [emphasis added] — F. C. S. Schiller, Logic for Use (1930)

    Subjecting “religion,” like any other subject, to Scientific Method quickly reveals its fundamentally ludicrous supposition: namely, that the world works not according to discoverable laws working everywhere the same but through the whim of obscure, fickle personalities whose “powerful” appetites and prejudices one can assuage or conciliate through stereotypical ritual practices such that the world will work otherwise than predictably, and to one’s own personal advantage.
    ========================================
    Oversimplification is not scientific, yet is a common practice (New Hypothesis Says Life Began Before The Earth).

  45. Fartindog, That sort of sums up my belief, having been raised and educated Catholic. When my kids would ask me about my faith[they went to church w/ my wife, I didn’t attend except for their Confirmation] I would tell them I don’t see God as a micromanager. To pray to God to win a game or other trivial things like that is an insult. I believe the greatest gift bestowed on us is free will. And, what I would tell my kids when you cut through all the horseshit of religion it’s really quite simple. My message was, and is, always simple. God put us together on this earth because life is just too difficult to be a solo endeavor. If you want to honor God, be kind to others, help them even if you don’t like them. It’s really no more complicated than that. However, my words meant nothing if my actions didn’t follow that belief. Too many parents don’t understand that basic truth. Kids watch what you do. They’re both good kids. Both flawed, but they are respectful and kind to others.

  46. Several interesting points to make here. It’s always interesting to observe the “other side” because of the amusement factor in general. First off, I’m not sure of the word to use, it’s peculiar in a sense, to see articles where atheists are allegedly being attacked. What an absurd statement. Sometimes it’s almost a daily happening where you hear something on the radio about another instance where atheists have once again chipped away at rights of those practicing their religion. Where one person in a whole group has forced, by law, their belief on everyone else because he/she “offended”. Never mind the wingnut used a law and inverted it to suit their own needs, when it isn’t even accurate. So it’s a ridiculous argument to say atheists are being attacked because we see if over and over and over where one nut job has imposed their view on everyone else and caused disruption or an invasion of someone else’s supposed freedom of religion. So more accurately, atheists aren’t being attacked, but are the attacker, of others freedoms.

    Secondly, we have a scenario of “what’s good for the goose is good for the gander”. Ad nauseum, we see over and over the phrase “homophobia”, to criticize and stereotype people who have differing views than the mainstream media. Even though it is a useless, meaningless cliché (because the emotion regarding homosexuality isn’t of fear, but of disgust) nonetheless it is used and abused, over an over and over. So atheists can’t handle being called an islamophobists. Seems like we have the making of a double standard here.

    “Salon, Nathan Lean has written what is basically one long ad-hominem fallacy focusing on Richard Dawkins. Lean’s attempt to link Dawkins with the Islamophobia of the far-right is totally lacking in substance.”

    There’s a sneaky little tactic, lumping islamophobia with “far right”. If anything, a fitting description for such would be “far left”. Someone is trying to associate the latter with the “right”, of which there is no association whatsoever.

    “Powerful philosophical arguments, such as the imaginary nature of God and the impossibility of omniscience/omnipotence, are just as valid with respect to Islam as Christianity.”

    I’m not even going to read those links because someone once told me, you don’t have to lift open a sewer cover to know what’s inside. The labels give these articles away as rubbish, not even suitable to be trampled upon. Seems like a little bit of irony here as well. Someone can’t describe atheists as having islamophobia, but yet atheists can have utterly stupid articles about religion. Pot, meet kettle.

    “…are just as valid with respect to Islam as Christianity. The arguments for creationism are just as vacuous when they come from Muslims.”

    That’s a mighty broad brush you are painting with there. Anyone familiar with Christianity knows full well the similarities between Christianity and Islam are likened to comparing apples to ferrets. Two different things. Christianity observes and acknowledges the evidence for creation in living things and the universe.

    I have attempted more than once, to cancel subscription to this blog, but it’s interesting to see the rants of the other side and get a chuckle or two as well.

  47. Hubert,

    “it’s almost a daily happening where you hear something on the radio about another instance where atheists have once again chipped away at rights of those practicing their religion.”

    *****

    Can you name the Constitutional rights of “those practicing their religion” that have been lost because of atheists?

  48. I think that everyone on this message board, whether atheist or not, needs to experience this inspiring religious video (courtesy of Pete Townshend and the Who, Eric Clapton, Ann Margaret, Arthur Brown, director Ken Russell and a cast of devoted extras, of course, the spirit of Marilyn Monroe):

  49. fore,two,ate,to,oh one,three,sat.urn’s in. ah-po’sit-shu. the lite-all bugger is at it again from the are, gon’,sow poll out yer Bic,c’rs.

    the tro’jan.sucker, is a muske’lung Mi. casa es souix’casa, and casa bla’k-oh.

    coco, knee know’s yavi-pie, mari-Co-PA. ar-pi’yo,
    three Mi.ill Island.is yuma’s, ajo’s…
    Blyt.h’s parker. the bolder cittee cracked a joke that knows-tra-dam-US did in Ass-troll-lee!gee?
    don’t go to a sooths sayer.
    washoe, and clark’ent’ ware thar’s hit again, knowing that GOD is 1 in the universe and each sin against GOD.
    GOD is 1.
    each a LIGHT parr-tickl’ll in the uni-verse comp.
    pounded by all light emitted expotentalley including black holes.
    the black 1 I-Rate will be eye-rate bi the pitohm-eek alone.
    he will look at the sittee lights counting all the stars, planets, sons, moons, soul-are cyst-tims, etc : on, OR, for each sin: knowing that he was told what to do month’s before: compounded by all those below him in any nation un tiill every nation is counted: is written. this is how god counts a sin. so gouge out an eye.

    so take your time prezzy. each sin is a thought by any one that speaks against THE FATHER. My Son said this, IN GREAT PAIN : as a starting point. it is written: to change Nothing ! …

    So o’ , and jo B where’s a promise that I will save your soles. if thar were a knew-klear war,wi?oh?wi?wa.S.D.in. mi’h’les riteing. D.C’will bern. in geology.
    crime-son tide was knot told how two stand in front of a glass naked and sea god.as a lite particle.would you C’n two In-fin’ty two another light particle threw the Mi.r-ore’s of yer-rope. and more men miss’ed bi THE HOLY SPIRIT. to have any false icon in any type, style, shape, or form except for THE HOLY BIBLE…
    … that WILL be made clean, on any government property, …

  50. “Oversimplification is not scientific, yet is a common practice.” — Dredd

    I wouldn’t know about that. I always proceed upon the assumption that “he who cannot paraphrase a text cannot demonstrate an understanding of it.” (My teachers used to demand of me: “What does that mean — in your own words.”) Therefore, I provided an appropriate citation above and then rephrased a synopsis of it. I think I did that sufficiently well.

    As far as science and simplicity go:

    “We should make things as simple as possible, but no simpler” — Albert Einstein

    “Do not complicate explanation beyond necessity.” Occam’s razor

    I’ll just do this another way with a quote from James George Frazer’s monumental study, The Golden Bough: a Study of Magic and Religion (1922):

    “All that a writer can do is, first, to say clearly what he means by religion, and afterwards to employ the word consistently in that sense throughout his work. By religion, then, I understand a propitiation or conciliation of powers superior to man which are believed to direct and control the course of nature and of human life [emphasis added]. Thus defined, religion consists of two elements, a theoretical and a practical, namely a belief in powers higher than man and an attempt to propitiate them.”

    Again, to highlight the essential definition of religion, one derived from several massive comparative studies of religious practices at all levels of human society and culture:

    Religion means ritual performances (in gestures and utterances) designed to please invisible powers who will then ostensibly respond by making the world work out in favor of the petitioner’s interests.

    When I use the word religion, I know what I mean by it and so does anyone who can read my words. Simple, but complete enough, I trust.

    Now, if everyone else who wishes to use the word will do the same, then perhaps a meaningful discussion can ensue.

  51. two rite in the weak daze …

    a great power would be helld’n the’re hands …

    afterlife is blown, intwo a child’s nosthrills, it learns to suck’ll and fills dem.thar di’purrs with math you, mMark, Lu’e.’n Jon”, and one to three
    if knoaw took in every animall in two the arc and then killed, and burned some of them. why dew they s’ille exist?!

    … butt any way, played in an elec-trick’ll storm. the people all around were amazed. all-thou”s were standing the’re and conducting a symphony. sum pulled out the’re sell phones and cop-pea’ rites, and said oh mi God, while benny and satan were s’reaming “now “wee”know” your power”…
    … The Big Ten says knot two make a’-knee graven image. I saw a person taking My pick-sures, move at ME. with know words said, or a move, the fo’l is out of a three hundred dollare’ sell phone. iron eek-lee it was a friday.

    what are the read ‘cents if the read wings trophey went from el-crapids to north-port wearing a life.jack’t

    knows straw damus was write on a saboth …

  52. if i were ewe mr press-a-dent i would call out the army and kill the’other’uckers that screw you around. I will knot diccar’own. i have polled your’ss out many times. who took an oath …

  53. Jerry Coyne:

    PuffHo: Richard Dawkins may not be a racist, but he’s xenophobic

    How charitable of Mr. al-Azami! Of course, anyone with two neurons to rub together knows that Muslims aren’t a race, and that Dawkins decries not genetic heritage or skin color, but religious belief. But that aside, al-Azami levels an accusation I haven’t heard before—Dawkins is a xenophobe!

    Yep, al-Azami has gone trolling through dictionaries until he finds a definition that, he thinks, fits Dawkins. Of course it doesn’t, because anyone who’s paid the least attention to Richard knows that he has no antipathy, fear, or hatred of strangers or foreigners. I’m an American, and I can attest that Richard likes Americans. Of course you could always assert that he likes white people but not brown or yellow ones, but that would be racism, which al-Azami claims isn’t true of Dawkins.

    Ouch! Slapped by logic.

  54. Hubert Cumberdale,

    “Anyone familiar with Christianity knows full well the similarities between Christianity and Islam are likened to comparing apples to ferrets. Two different things. Christianity observes and acknowledges the evidence for creation in living things and the universe.”

    That’s really funny. Especially the last sentence.

  55. 4/two ‘niene’s/

    AHhh, two’s’day after noon …
    The mooo’dy blew’s. K-2 looking glass, a shot in the dark.

    take ‘un, point at temple gaze into the glass for the prop. per aline meant, slowly sqq-wheez.till there’s hit all about, the’f act you won’t look the same. so use a 38 BB for paper addjust ment.two seed the mid’ell ground,use two eyes,a’bee-deck stress is to make a nas’l cavity.

    the ‘ears:
    Hey,gee said THE BIBLE is a super computer on paper, and has every thingyous knead to L.E.D. the blind.he read it from one of MI.sights az . on the ewesdayshun tube. the ass-off a-guess is connected to the*
    TAKE A ‘NIFE and cut’.’ears, they were meant for pokeing holes ‘okes, and jewelry. use a gun and you won’t think strait.

    on to tosh.o for the tung depressor;
    … it’s the ‘vidiot speaking too.spread seed sack on tha’bull, press in firm-myrhh re,squeez the trigger.till wood shatters. then send the knut to da haa’pit all.the teeth are made for adjustment in dent his tree of chewin stuff with whizd um…
    …the watch lights fade from every room.

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