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. 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).

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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?

  5. 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):

  6. 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, …

  7. “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.

  8. 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 …

  9. 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 …

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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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